UPDATE: Sen. Decker stripped of leadership position after vote - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Sen. Decker stripped of leadership position after vote

Posted:

MADISON (WKOW) -- In a special lame duck session to vote on over a dozen new contracts for state workers, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker throws a curve ball voting against the first labor contract, then he's stripped of his leadership post.

Many of his colleagues react to a day that will go down in Wisconsin legislature history.

It's a vote that sent democrats in a panic. Senator Decker literally running from the camera's only to say he has no regrets.

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison says, "I have never seen as difficult a day as today. It's quite frankly not the best day for the senate."

Senators Decker and Jeff Plale were the only two democrats to vote no forcing a 16-16 tie, but it was the vote from the senate majority leader that got all the attention.

Senator Decker gave no indication before the vote that he was going to vote against the labor contracts. It shocked Democrats and drew harsh criticism from his colleagues.

Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar says, "It is the most disgusting behavior by any public official I have seen in 28 years. A leader who abandons his principals, the senate, the workers and left a legacy of being a loser. He's been here for almost 20 years and he will be remembered by this one sad moment in life. That's a shame."

Stunned democrats immediately went into a closed door meeting where they stripped Decker of his role as senate majority leader, but Decker did not budge saying it should be the next legislature who should deal with the contracts.

Decker and Plale stuck with their decision voting against all 17 contracts.

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay says, "My heart is in this. This is the saddest day of my ten year tenure and it's something we have to live with."

Hansen was installed as the new majority leader. The senate is expected to return to the floor at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The new contracts would have included no pay increases, 16 furlough days and a 5% increase in health care contributions. the 17 deals are retroactive to July 1, 2009 and cover about 37,000 state employees.

Contract negotiations are usually a quiet affair. But Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker ignited a bitter debate when he demanded last month that the current administration stop negotiations.

He said he wanted state workers to make deeper concessions to help him deal with a projected $150 million deficit in the current fiscal year and a projected $3.3 billion shortfall in the next two-year state budget.

********

MADISON (WKOW) -- In a special lame duck session, state lawmakers came together to vote on over a dozen new contracts for state workers.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker threw a curve ball voting against the first labor contract. Decker shocked everyone when he announced that he would not vote for the labor contract, forcing a 16-16 tie and sending the Democrats in disarray.

Decker said the next legislature should deal with the contracts.

Democrats immediately went behind closed doors, trying to convince Sen. Decker to change his mind. They just returned and he did not change his mind -- all 17 failed.

Earlier in the night, the Assembly approved all 17 union contracts by one vote. That one vote coming down to Representative Jeff Wood, an independent.

Rep. Jeff Wood was given special permission to get out of the Chippewa County Jail in order to cast the deciding vote. He's been jailed twice for drunk driving convictions. But under the constitution, Wood cannot be kept away from the capitol when the legislature is in session.

Wood voted yes and he turned out to be the deciding vote in the Assembly as they were approved 48-47.

Republicans were very upset about this lame duck special session. Upset they were called in mid-December and upset the Democrats had to scramble for votes.

The new contracts include no pay increases, 16 furlough days and a 5 percent increase in health care contributions.

Democrats were racing to approve these contracts knowing they will lose control of both the Assembly and Senate January 3rd.

After the vote, Democratic Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar had some harsh words for Sen. Decker.

He said, "It's an extraordinary day in Wisconsin history and a sad day.  [Decker] did not give any hint that he would vote this way. It's very hard to understand how a leader can abandon his responsibilities. His 19-year career will be defined by this pathetic performance tonight."

---------------------

MADISON (AP) -- Democrats' efforts to pass new state worker contracts before losing control of the Legislature have stalled after their own Senate leader abruptly voted against the pacts.

The Assembly narrowly passed the agreements earlier Wednesday evening and handed them over to the Senate.

But Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker stood up and said the next Legislature should deal with them. The Weston Democrat then voted against the first of 17 contracts, resulting in a tie vote and effectively killing the pacts.

Stunned Democrats immediately took a break and went into a closed door meeting. It's unclear when they might return.

Democrats control the Assembly and Senate until Republicans take control Jan. 3. They have been pushing to get the contracts finished before then.

The 17 deals are retroactive to July 1, 2009 and cover about 37,000 state employees.

Powered by Frankly