NORTHERN ILLINOIS (WKOW) -- A democratic state senator in Illinois told 27 News a compromise approach used in the 1980s could provide a solution to the continuing high-stakes, political stalemate over Governor Walker's controversial budget repair bill.
Sen. Timothy Cullen (D-Janesville), speaking to WKOW27 News from a location the television station agreed not to disclose, said former Governor Tony Earl solved an unemployment insurance funding crisis in 1983 by asking two top lawmakers from both parties to hammer out a compromise, even though democrat Earl had democratic majorities in both houses of Wisconsin government.
Cullen said Walker could do the same thing now, with Walker simply having to accept the lawmakers' recommendation.
"It doesn't require the Governor to give in."
Cullen and thirteen other senators are in Illinois to avoid being compelled to vote on Walker's bill, which strips public employee unions of most of their ability to collectively bargain. Walker said such a change is needed to allow the state, local governments and schools to trim labor costs and avoid mass layoffs. Walker's proposal has led thousands of people to demonstrate at the state capitol for a week, most of them opposed to his plan.
Senate minority leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) told WKOW27 News he has no timetable for he and his colleagues to return to the state capital.
"The governor has the opportunity to be the unifier."
Miller said he will not return pay for his time in Illinois, but would not accept state per diem payments to cover room and board, and would not submit requests for mileage reimbursement. Miller also said he would not tap his political campaign account to cover costs of his exile.
Cullen said he's slipped back into Wisconsin to get needed items when there was no call of the senate for members to present themselves, but returned to Illinois when that senate call resumed to avoid being compelled to appear.
Miller said he had planned to be part of a family reunion in California at this time. Cullen said he expressed some reservation when democratic senators first left Wisconsin last week because he had not attended the meeting of his colleagues when the plan and its rationale were discussed.
But Cullen said his misgivings are gone. "I think this is absolutely the right thing to do."