Staff pay checks affected by senators' absence - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Staff pay checks affected by senators' absence

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Senate committee tightened the process by which staff members of absent Senate Democrats receive their pay checks, upping the ante over the lawmaker absences and the Senate's inability to take up Governor Walker's controversial budget repair bill.

The committee's three Republican members voted to force staff members of absent lawmakers to submit records of work hours to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Ftizgerald, instead of to their Senate bosses. The committee's two Democratic Senators did not vote.

In a statement, Fitzgerald said absent Senators were not present to verify work hours, so he would do it.

Senate staff members also had their ability to use state copy machines restricted, with Fitzgerald noting there's been questionable, inordinately frequent copy machine use.

Some staff members said the policy changes were intended to increase pressure on Senate Democrats in Illinois to return to the Capitol.

"We will not be intimidated," Sen. Chris Larson's aide Justin Sargent told WKOW-27 News.

In a phone call from an undisclosed location in Illinois, Larson told WKOW-27 News pressure tactics will not prompt missing democrats to return.

Fitzgerald had already eliminated the ability of the pay checks of missing Democrats to be processed with direct deposits to financial institutions, instead requiring Senators to show up at the Senate to pick up checks, almost guaranteeing the absent Senators will miss at least one pay check.

Governor Walker said the failure of Senate Democrats to present themselves at the State Capitol to consider his proposal to strip public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights was also jeopardizing another aspect of his budget repair: the refinancing of $165 million in state debt. Walker said if the fourteen Democratic Senators do not return within 24 hours, the restructuring will have to be scrapped and worker lay offs will take place.

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