Monday, February 28, 2011

Teachers, End of Medicaid and Wisconsin

Over 100,000 Rally in Madison; Thousands Join Nationwide Protests

Over 100,000 people rallied in Madison on Saturday against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to remove the collective bargaining rights of most public-sector workers. It was the largest demonstration Madison has seen since the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of people marched in solidarity protests nationwide. In New York City, thousands gathered for a "Save the American Dream" rally outside City Hall. Crowds drawing several thousand were also reported in cities including Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles and Denver. In Wisconsin, hundreds of demonstrators defied police orders and slept inside the State Capitol building Sunday night in defiance of Walker’s order to leave. Capitol police decided not to enforce Walker’s edict after hundreds of labor activists, students and supporters insisted on staying put.

Providence School Teachers Warned of Layoffs

Public school teachers in Providence, Rhode Island, have been warned they could lose their jobs this year. The Providence School Board issued the work alert last week, citing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall. Nearly 2,000 teachers have been told they could be fired.

Governors Push Changes to Medicaid

President Obama is hosting a meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House today amidst a contentious debate over the squeezing of workers’ rights and social services in the name of reducing deficits. At a gathering of the National Governors Association over the weekend, Democratic and Republican leaders agreed to form a committee to explore ways to amend Medicaid. The panel will look at how states can change eligibility rules and other provisions of the insurance program for low-income Americans. Republicans have called for converting Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block grant, similar to how Republicans and former President Bill Clinton altered welfare programs in the 1990s. Among the strongest advocates for that route is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has just been named the new chair of the National Governors Association’s health and human services panel.

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