Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker has insisted, publicly and consistently, since the incredibly contentious introduction and eventual passage of his "Budget Repair" legislation early last year, that the need to remove collective-bargaining rights from public sector union workers was necessary only for balancing his state's alleged budgetary woes. It had absolutely nothing to do with breaking the unions, he said time and again, only with balancing the budget.
He maintained as much, even long after the public unions in question had agreed, as they did almost immediately, to concessions in pensions and benefits that would have closed the budget gap Walker pretended to be concerned about.
Opponents, in turn, had long charged that Walker's divisive legislation --- in the birthplace of public sector unions, nonetheless --- was about breaking the back of the unions on behalf of his corporate benefactors.
On Thursday night, video-taped evidence was made public supporting his opponents' contentions that the "Budget Repair" bill was about little more than breaking the unions. In the video, the Governor is seen, just before introducing the legislation in January of last year, speaking with local billionaire Diane Hendricks --- who eventually gave more money to Walker than any politician has ever received from one person in the state.
He is seen discussing his plan to "divide and conquer" public employee unions as part of his budget bill, in response to her direct questions about whether Wisconsin would ever be "completely red" and become a so-called "Right to Work" state. He went on to discuss his admiration for Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels who, he said, was able to do away with unions "through executive order."
Walker laments that he is forced to do it legislatively in the Badger State, "So I need lawmakers to vote on it. But the key is by tying it to the budget," he says.
The conversation is seen in a new film by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein whose film, As Goes Janesville, is set to be released later this year on HBO. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's opponent in next month's recall election, has already used part of the bombshell video in the following campaign ad...