MADISON (WKOW) -- 27 News' Elishah Oesch interviewed Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach about the Assembly's overnight passage of the budget repair bill; and he spoke about the out-of-state Democratic Senators' plan.
The following is the transcript from the interview.
"Well we knew it was probably going to happen. I'm amazed about the 60 hour debate and Senate Democrats up a whole number of amendments. What's telling is how they couldn't get one attached to the bill. That tells me that right now in the Assembly obviously Republicans don't want to make any changes to what Governor Walker wants to do. We actually want to come back today, we would have loved to [be] back home last week. But that's not up to us, it's up to the Governor who said this has always been about a balanced budget and he had that in the palm of his hand so when we come home is up to him. So it doesn't change our position one way or the other. I don't expect the Governor to make any changes as I do the Senate Republicans. There are probably about five or six Senate Republicans who do not support what the Governor is doing with the worker's rights issue in the state of Wisconsin along with some other things as well, it's just not that. I would tend to think they're reaching out to the Governor to see if he can back down on a few other things but there's a reason why they haven't taken things out of the budget repair bill like collective bargaining and voted on them individually because they know it wouldn't pass. That's not a vote they want to take. Again, we're hopefully going to hear from them at some point and I know Mark Miller (Minority Leader) has been talking to Scott Fitzgerald, who's the Majority Leader, on a daily basis, and hopefully we can see some progress there. I would like to see Governor Walker stand up and say this bill isn't going to work. Let's try to do something different. Let's come up with different ideas. The state is clearly ripped apart by this issue. There's a reason why people are protesting not only in Madison but all over the state. It's very difficult if you're a Governor, Republican or Democrat, to lead a state when we are so divided. I would like to hear the Governor say we're going to start over, I don't think he will, but that's what I'd like to see."
Sen. Erpenbach had this to say about the Assembly's passage of the budget repair bill early Friday morning: "It's gives you some idea on how divisive this repair bill is, usually it's not loaded up with policy, like taking over the Medicaid and Badger care program. This isn't one of those things where we're just trying to fight the good fight. We're adamant this proposal can't go forward as is and we're doing the only thing we can do and they forced us into this proposal."
When asked why not debate this bill on the floor of the Senate, Erpenbach said the following.
"We're absolutely doing our job by standing up and standing up for people who don't like this. We know if we came back to the Senate chamber they'd lock the doors, they wouldn't let us out, they'd limit debate and force a vote if they possibly can. We think that's wrong. This proposal affects every single person in the state of Wisconsin."