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WI State Senate Makes Budget Repair Bill Unamendable

MADISON, WI (FDL) – The Wisconsin State Senate “engrossed” the budget repair bill today, which includes the provision to strip the collective bargaining rights for public employees. This means that the bill, which came from the Assembly, can no longer be amended. Sen. Dale Schultz (R), who comes from a swing district, planned to introduce an amendment that would sunset the collective bargaining restrictions after two years. He publicly announced he would do this. When push came to shove, he didn’t offer the amendment, and blamed Democrats for this failure.

“It puts me and my constituents and every other independent-minded person in this state at risk,” Schultz said of the Dems’ boycott. “I’m deeply disappointed in my colleagues from the minority party, for without their participation bipartisan compromise is simply impossible.” […]

“Where I come from, compromise is not a dirty word. It’s something we do every day to survive,” Schultz said.

Except he did not offer the compromise, he got bullied by his caucus into basically staying silent.

Governor Walker, meanwhile, has been flying around the state to the districts of the Democratic Senators, in places like Kenosha, Rhinelander and Green Bay, criticizing them for staying in Illinois and denying a quorum on the bill. Not sure who footed the bill for the private jet Walker is using to fly around. Walker has stayed on message despite a battering in the local and national press, and mass protests in Madison and throughout Wisconsin.

Over 270 state legislators from across the nation, from 44 states, have declared their support for the protests as well. In many of those states, these anti-union measures could be coming next.

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that his caucus is standing strong, with 18 “solid” votes in support (he needs 17 out of 33 in the Senate to pass it). The one who isn’t solid is the aforementioned Dale Schultz. Four Republican members of the state Assembly voted against the bill; Asm. Chris Danou (D) told me today that they were “strategic No’s” from Republicans with a large union presence in their home districts.

Fitzgerald said that he wouldn’t let Democrats drag out the debate on the bill if they come back, and that “There’s no negotiating on this bill at all.” He reiterated the threat to lay off state workers if the legislature misses a deadline to restructure state debt and save $165 million in this fiscal year.

So Republicans are firm, and so are the Democrats and their allies. This is from the labor coalition, in response to the Assembly vote:

Working families are not deterred in the slightest because the fight continues in the Senate as we knew it would. All across the state thousands of thousands of workers are rallying, making phone calls and knocking on doors to protect their rights to have a voice at work. And we thank our incredible allies, the Democratic Senators, who continue to stand strong as powerful champions of working families.

Public employees have shown they are serious about balancing the budget by agreeing to Gov. Walker’s pension and health care requests – concessions that the governor himself says will solve the budget challenge […]

It is time for the Governor and Senate leaders to recognize the compromise that is on the table and get Wisconsin moving forward again.

UPDATE: During the campaign, Gov. Walker promised to end late-night votes like the one took last night at 1am:

He promised to sign legislation if elected governor that prohibits the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m.

“I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That’s even more true in politics,” he said in a statement. “The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen