Marathon assembly debate on budget bill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Marathon assembly debate on budget bill


By Julia Fello - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- The State Assembly kept its debate going late Tuesday night over amendments to Governor Walker's repair bill.

More than two-dozen are on the table and there could be up to 200 in all to get through, which could take hours, or even days to vote on.

The Democratic amendments include restoring public workers' right to strike and require an approval in a public referendum before the bill would take effect.

Republicans made it crystal clear -- removing the governor's proposed limits on collective bargaining is not on the table to negotiate.

The speaker says it's not an easy choice, but to solve the state's more than $3 billion budget deficit, schools are going to face cuts.

"This ain't easy for me! We don't have any options left! So we can sit on the floor and demagogue all night long to say we don't like public employees but that's wrong!" said Assembly Speaker Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald.

"The speaker's right! This is tough! But why don't we let bipartisanship break out?  Why don't we sit down and rewrite this bill," said Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Peter Barca.

Democrats like Rep. Barca are determined to amend this bill.

Republicans argue all the Democrats are doing is stall this bill even further.

Stay tuned to for the latest updates on this developing story.


MADISON (WKOW) -- State Assembly members contentiously began debate Tuesday on Governor Walker's proposed budget deficit fix, beginning the session with sharp words over a Republican maneuver last week that allowed consideration of the bill without Democrats present.

Assembly minority leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) scolded Republican colleagues for skirting legislative rules, and promised to press a motion to remove Assembly speaker pro tempore Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) for his actions last week if another rule violation took place.

Barca chided members for some laughter during his speech.   One Republican lawmaker shot back Barca was simply stalling consideration of the governor's bill.

When debate began on the bill, a procession of amendments began being proposed by Democrats, taking aim at the bill's stripping of nearly all collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Rep. Joe Parisi (D-Madison) said such collective bargaining changes would affect workplace safety,  and said if worker rights were violated,  employers would still simply adopt a "my way or the highway" approach.

Assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said with the possibility of two hundred proposed amendments,  debate could stretch into Thursday.

Fitzgerald also said the state's $3.6 billion deficit required the revision of collective bargaining rights to give schools and local governments flexibility to lower labor costs and absorb coming cuts in state aid.

Fitzgerald also said a proposal to enact the collective bargaining limits for this budget cycle only was a "two year fix" that would leave the state in the same perpetual massive budget deficit situation.

During the Assembly debate,  Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said his goal was to pull off what had appeared almost impossible, until days of mass capitol protests and the departure of Senate Democrats to Illinois to avoid a vote on the bill in that chamber changed the political landscape.

"I'm not out to stall this bill.   I'm out to kill it."

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