Thousands of protesters have convened outside of the Wisconsin State House in recent days to pledge their support for, or opposition to, a bill that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
According to CNN, Tea Party activists have established their presence in a heated debate that has garnered national attention. Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed a budget that would increase state workers' contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits, as well as eliminate some of their bargaining power in contract negotiations.
The proposal has attracted staunch supporters and critics to the State's Capitol building. The news provider reported that approximately 55,000 people staged protests on Feb. 19.
Tea Party members, including the organization Americans for Prosperity, claim that this legislation is necessary to reduce the deficit. They hope that Wisconsin's proposal will serve as a model for other State budgets.
"Wisconsin is ground zero," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, told the media outlet. "I think it is going to determine largely whether the pampered nature of these public employees is finally reigned in."
Democratic State Senators have fled Wisconsin — residing at an Illinois hotel — in order to express their contempt for Walker's bill. The absence of 14 Democrats has prevented the chamber from having the quorum necessary to vote on the budget.
On Fox News Sunday, Walker said that the legislators are not participating in democracy by "hiding out in another State."