SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he's using Illinois and its many problems as an argument for keeping him in office.
The first-term Republican faces a recall election in June. The recall effort was prompted largely because Walker restricted union bargaining rights for most state employees.
Walker spoke to Illinois business groups on Tuesday to defend his record. He said that unlike Illinois leaders, he has put Wisconsin on sound financial footing without raising taxes or worsening unemployment.
"On every measure, our pension system for state employees is essentially fully funded. Illinois is the worst funded in the country," Walker said. "If voters in our state want to know the difference, between going forward or backward, they need only look at the mess you have in state government here in Springfield to know what it would be like if the recall ultimately prevailed."
Walker told reporters the event was a campaign stop meant to show voters that his ouster could mean Illinois-style problems will hit Wisconsin.
Illinois and Wisconsin union workers protested outside, waving signs that read "Don't Badger Us." Upward of 4,000 people protested Walker's appearance in Springfield.
"Gov. Walker's policies are no good for Illinois. We don't understand why the Illinois Chamber of Commerce would invite the man who wants to take Illinois jobs back to Wisconsin. It's stupid," said Deb Russell, of the Illinois Federation of Public Employees.
Inside, the crowd inside greeted Walker with extended standing ovations.
Walker then went from Illinois to Michigan on Tuesday in part for a fundraiser for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, where he was again met by protesters.
United Auto Workers union members are among hundreds of people who picketed outside a Michigan Republican event featuring Walker.
The protest was held Tuesday evening outside at the San Marino Club in Troy, site of the Southeast Michigan Ronald Reagan Memorial Dinner.
The UAW said the demonstration is targeted at Walker's and Snyder's "shared agenda of cutting taxes on the wealthy while shifting the tax burden to the middle-class workers."
Walker is scheduled to be Chicago on Friday to speak to the Illinois Policy Institute.
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