Budget Repair Bill Not Up For Negotiation Say Gov. Walker And Senate Leader
WISCONSINREPORT.COM (02/21/2011) - The Majority Leader of Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate says he has enough votes to pass the Budget Repair Bill that has caused 14 Senate Democrats to skip the state and take up refuge in neighboring Illinois. Senator Scott Fitzgerald says the bill is ready to go and is in final passage form. He expects it will easily pass with 19 GOP votes, but he is waiting for the 14 Dems to return to Madison and take their seats in the Senate chamber so the final vote can be taken. However, he says the bill will remain intact.
Newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a former County Executive, is requiring his fellow Republicans to take away the Collective Bargaining right of public employees as part of a package that Walker says he wants to "repair the current budget". He says the Collective Bargaining process also costs the state money.
The so-called repair also includes requiring those same public employees to take pay cuts that include individuals making larger contributions to their own retirement fund, so the state would not be paying as much as it has been to that fund.
There have been indications the public employee groups would be willing to take those pay cuts to help the state, but they want to retain the Collective Bargaining right to have a say in the future. Governor Walker is not interested, saying there's no guarantee the employee groups would all honor that scenario.
Meanwhile, Republican Senate Majority Leader Senator Scott Fitzgerald is hoping public pressure on the missing Democratic Senators will force the 14 back to the Senate Floor so the final bill can be voted on, and passed.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller says they they are willing to negotiate, and return to the Senate in Madison from the undisclosed location in Illinois, but, Governor Walker and Senator Fitzgerald continue to indicate there is no room for movement in the language of the bill. Senator Fitzgerald says the bill is not negotiable and Republicans are "rock solid" in their determination to pass the bill in it's current form.
This is all over the controversy surrounding the terms of the "Budget Repair Bill" to fix the deficit in the current budget. Soon attention will turn to next year's budget. Governor Walker is expected to present his budget for 2012 tomorrow.
Between 70,000 to 80,000 pro and anti protesters demonstrated in Madison during the weekend. The demonstration numbers have been growing steadily since protesting began a week ago at the Wisconsin capitol.
The provisions in the bill will largely affect teachers, healthcare workers but it is believed to also be aimed at state highway workers and snow-removal crews.
In it's current form the provisions do not affect firefighters or police officers. However, firefighters have been among the protesters as a show of solidarity, because some firefighters believe the provisions are unfair and could be also aimed at them down the road.
Officials and members from major worker unions are also concerned about the provisions, including elimination of Collective Bargaining for public employees. Many are worried it could become the beginning of what is being called, "Union Busting". They say, Republicans have been hoping to break up unions on behalf of their supporters in the private industry sector, and this could be an opening for that to happen.
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