MADISON — Tens of thousand of protesters rallied around the Capitol in Madison to mark one year since the legislature eliminated collective bargaining rights for most state workers.
"Much has changed in wisconsin here in the past year, and in 2012 we must capitalize on our momentum for change," said State Sen. Jennifer Shilling, (D) LaCrosse, who was the victor in a recall election last year.
That change could come in the form of recall elections recommended by the Government Accountability Board to take place in June.
"We stood out on street corners or in malls and we just gathered signatures from anyone that was interested and we had a lot of interest," said a demonstrator at Saturday's rally organized by the AFL-CIO of Wisconsin.
Speakers at the rally even addressed the need to undo some of the union member's own damage.
"We had 39.6 percent of union members vote for this current administration," said Mahlon Mitchell with the Fire Fighters Union.
Governor Walker had no public appearance scheduled but commented on twitter about the rally, saying: "Some want to drag WI backwards and rehash debates of the past. We want to move WI forward."
Walker has been running television commercial detailing the benefits of measures he has taken to eliminate the $3.6 billion deficit and create jobs.
Fellow Republicans say taking a stand wasn't easy but it was the right decision for all of Wisconsin.
Conservative activist Paris Procopis credits the Walker administration with helping school districts and municipalities to save money by making changes in collective bargaining.
Governor Walker meanwhile is cooperating with investigators in Milwaukee. Those investigators are looking into Walker's former staffers who may have broken campaign laws when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. Walker opened a fund to pay legal expenses.
But Democrats are using the investigation as a another reason to attack the governor.
Legislators caught up in the political fight last year told us then the state would take years to get back to normal, and it's clear after a year the sides remain split.
"I wasn't sure what we would see a year later but it looks like we haven't forgotten," said one protester pointing out the estimated 35,000 people at the rally.
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