The Wisconsin state senate convened tonight to pass an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill. The amended version strips out a $30 million debt-refinancing provision of the bill, thereby allowing a vote with 14 Democrats still in exile in Illinois.
Republican senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald released the following statement:
Before the election, the Democrats promised “adult leadership” in Madison. Then a month and a half into session, the Senate Democrats fled the state instead of doing their job.
In doing so, they have tarnished the very institution of the Wisconsin state Senate. This is unacceptable.
This afternoon, following a week and a half of line‐by‐line negotiation, Sen. Miller sent me a letter that offered three options: 1) keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 2) take our counter‐offer,which would keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 3) or stop talking altogether.
With that letter, I realized that we’re dealing with someone who is stalling indefinitely, and doesn’t have a plan or an intention to return. His idea of compromise is “give me everything I want,” and the only negotiating he’s doing is through the media.
Enough is enough.
The people of Wisconsin elected us to do a job. They elected us to stand up to the broken status quo, stop the constant expansion of government, balance the budget, create jobs and improve the economy. The longer the Democrats keep up this childish stunt, the longer the majority can’t act on our agenda.
Tonight, the Senate will be passing the items in the budget repair bill that we can, with the 19 members who actually DO show up and do their jobs. Those items include the long‐overdue reform of collective bargaining needed to help local governments absorb these budget cuts, and the 12 percent health care premium and 5 percent pension contribution.
We have confirmed with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau that every item in tonight’s bill follows the letter of the law.
The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job. Just because the Senate Democrats won’t do theirs, doesn’t mean we won’t do ours.
The amended bill now moves to the state assembly, which will take it up in what promises to be a raucous session tomorrow morning.
In his statement, Fitzgerald references this letter from Democratic senate minority leader Mark Miller, which indicates an unwillingness to negotiate on the particulars of the bill.
— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.