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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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SCHULTZ: And the truth is that Walker can"t pass anything in his budget until the Wisconsin 14 come home.

Joining us tonight from an undisclosed location in Illinois are Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor. Also Senator Chris Larson and the longest serving legislator in the United States, Senator Fred Risser.

Fred, I"ll ask you first, how radical is this budget? What was your response to the governor"s numbers today of 900 million dollars being taken out of education?

FRED RISSER, WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: You know, Wisconsin has always been proud of its support for its public education. What the governor is attempting to do would devastate our educational system. He is proposing to take, as you pointed out, close to a billion dollars of funds away.

And how is he going to make it up? Well, he figures--the tools he talks about is busting the union and letting local school boards turn around and unilaterally write these contracts. It is just outrageous.

SCHULTZ: Senator Taylor, how do you feel about the governor blaming you that there will labor offs if you don"t go back?

LENA TAYLOR, WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: I think it"s ridiculous. The governor knows it is. The governor knows that the amount of money he is taking out of our education system is going to devastate each of the districts. And the fact that we"re gone is not the reason why. And the repair bill does not provide them with, quote-unquote, tools that will make up for the amount of dollars that he"s taking out.

And one other thing, Ed. When you look at the fact that in Milwaukee, in particular, that our children who are African-American are lead in the nation for the fourth grade and 8th grade for the lowest reading scores we"re already devastated.

So, you know, how are we going to be prepared for the jobs that he says he wants to create or be able to compete globally? This is really a sad moment in Wisconsin history.

SCHULTZ: Lena, what will it do to the Milwaukee school district?

TAYLOR: At least 59 million dollars will be out of the Milwaukee school system, not to mention when you consider the eligibility requirements and the voucher schools and the caps that he"s taking off of that. For every dollar that MPS gets, there is a certain percentage of those dollars that will go to the voucher schools because of the formula.

SCHULTZ: And Senator Larson, this really restricts local control to do anything about a shortfall, doesn"t it?

CHRIS LARSON, WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: Right. I mean, he"s really handing the gun over to them and saying, you"re welcome. Now you get to make the choice of whether you"re going to slash your employees, increase class sizes, or restrict worker rights. So he"s really passing the buck on to them. And judging from his speech, he almost expects a thank you out of them.

This is not anything that the five school districts I have are looking
for. In fact, they"re dreading the changes of what"s going to happen. You
make a small change and it has a ripple effect throughout the entire
education system in each of these small cities. So when he is making these
drastic, million dollar changes through school districts, I shudder to see
to think of what it"s going to look like next year.

SCHULTZ: Senator Risser, is there a deal in the works? I understand that some of the 14 met on the border are with Republican leadership. Can you tell us about that?

RISSER: Well, there"s no deal yet.

SCHULTZ: OK.

RISSER: We obviously are keeping communication with our colleagues in the Senate, but no deal is reached.

SCHULTZ: And Lena Taylor, Senator Taylor, can you tell us about the resolve of the 14, now that the governor has laid the--well, he put the budget down. He put the hard numbers right in front of you. Where"s the resolve of the group today?

TAYLOR: I will tell you that we are still standing strong for workers" rights. And we"re still standing for the people of Wisconsin. But we are going to be sitting down looking at the budget. The problem is the governor hasn"t quite released the budget. So the little bit that we are able to figure out of what"s in it, you know, we will have to talk amongst each other and determine how we move forward.

But, you know, we"re seeing that it"s going to devastate our state.

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