Several states are wrestling with potentially tough budget cuts.
With more public employee protests in Wisconsin and Democratic lawmakers still out of state to block a vote to cut union pay, Republican Governor Scott Walker says he'll soon lay off state workers.
"I'm not negotiating over a budget. The budget is broke, just like nearly every state across the country we are broke," Walker said. "I can't negotiate for something when I don't have anything to give."
The governor wants an 8% pay cut for teachers and other public workers, and wants to do away with their collective bargaining agreements.
Without it, he says, Wisconsin slips $4 billion into the red.
In nearby Indiana the Republican governor is pushing public employee pay cuts as well.
Democratic lawmakers there are also avoiding a vote.
New Jersey's republican governor is demanding public employees pay for benefits, like private sector workers.
The AFL-CIO calls it union busting.
"This isn't about balancing the budget," says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "This is about making political choices. It's about hurting workers about taking away their rights."
In Ohio Tuesday President Obama met with new Republican Governor John Kasich, who's pushing to lower what his state pays public employees.
Ohio workers are protesting as well.
Democrats mostly oppose forcing cuts on public employees.
The conflict is echoed in Washington, where the disagreement over how deeply and how quickly to cut spending could shut down the government by the end of next week.