WALKER TURNS UP THE HEAT IN WISCONSIN, THREATENS LAYOFFS…. When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) demands that public workers accept less pay and fewer benefits, he can make a credible case it relates to state financing. But as is obvious by now, Walker is going much further, demanding that most unionized public employees in the state also abandon their collective bargaining rights, which is unrelated to the budget.

The point, of course, is to be punitive — Walker doesn’t like unions, so he’s trying to break them.

Today, the far-right governor took the next step, threatening to take away public-sector jobs unless his unnecessary demands are met. (via Barbara Morrill)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warns that state employees could start receiving layoff notices as early as next week if a bill eliminating collective bargaining rights isn’t passed soon.

Walker said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press that the layoffs wouldn’t take effect immediately. He didn’t say which workers would be targeted.

There can be no doubt as to the punitive nature of the policy here. Walker doesn’t need to start laying off state employees, and the bill to gut collective bargaining rights has nothing to do with these workers’ employment status.

This, in other words, is a thuggish threat — give Walker the union-busting bill he wants, or he’ll start making unemployment worse on purpose.

As far as the governor is concerned, the two are related, since the pending state legislation include benefit and wage “reforms,” too. But Walker has a choice — the unions would agree to his demands on compensation and benefits, if only he’d let them keep the collective bargaining rights state employees earned generations ago. That is, incidentally, an agreement that Wisconsin voters broadly endorse, and it could be approved quickly, making layoffs unnecessary and ending the protests.

But not only has Walker deemed this insufficient, he’s now prepared to start handing out pink slips next week, just because he can.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.