Gov. Scott Walker delivered a passionate defense of Wisconsin’s reforms at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday night. The embattled Republican governor used his keynote speech at CPAC to outline what’s at stake in Wisconsin and other states if his budget reforms are rolled back.
“Our most powerful tool is the truth,” Walker told an excited crowd of conservatives, who gave him two standing ovations. He defended his actions as courageous with labor unions mounting a recall campaign to remove him from office. Unions have already financed recall efforts against state senators, losing four of the six campaigns they ran against incumbent Republicans.
Walker said unions are motivated because of the reforms he and the legislature put in place shortly after he took office in 2011. They encompassed a range of issues — tax incentives for job creators, regulatory relief, tort reform and new options for health savings accounts — but the most controversial addressed government unions.
Walker reformed the collective bargaining system in Wisconsin, empowering state and local governments to address budget deficits by asking government employees to make a 5.8% pension contribution (about the national average) and 12.6% health insurance contribution (about half the national average).
“Collective bargaining is not a right,” Walker said. “In the public sector, collective bargaining is an expensive entitlement.”