Patti Wenzel

A possible compromise in Madison?

By - Mar 9th, 2011 04:00 am
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Sen. Minority Leaders Mark Miller

Just when you thought compromise was impossible in Madison, Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) have offered an alternative budget repair bill to Gov. Scott Walker, with the hope that the stalemate that has gripped Madison for the past three weeks can be broken.

The bill maintains some of the fiscal policy of Walker’s original – it requires state employees to make a 5.8 percent contribution to their pension plans and 12.6 percent to their health insurance premiums and allows for the refinancing of bonds to save $165 million in interest payments.

Gone in the Democrats’ proposal – the further restriction of employee bargaining rights, the no-bid sale of state-owned power plants and the appointment of 35 staffers to Department of Administration.

“Working together we have drafted and are introducing a new bill that addresses our current fiscal issues,” Miller said.“Introducing a new bill allows us to move past the disputes of the last weeks without anyone having to backtrack on a vote they have taken or cross any lines in the sand that they have drawn.”

Miller adds that this proposal will even create a net balance that is greater than what Walker proposed, by eliminating the non-fiscal “policy-pork.”

In a memo accompanying the alternative bill, the Democrats dismiss Walker’s repeated assertion that the state is broke, but do acknowledge there are three areas that have exceeded the budgeted amounts set in 2009.

Those three areas are medical assistance, which needs $153.2 million to cover payments through June 30; the public defender and private bar fund which is short $3.5 million; and a $21.7 million shortfall at the Department of Corrections.

Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) says the shortages in the current fiscal year will be covered by the proposed employee contributions and refinancing.

He added that even though Republicans have already moved the deadline date for the refinancing over the last three weeks in an effort to bring his caucus home, the Democrats believe there is still time to complete the financing and reap the savings.

“This bill keeps the deep cuts to the pensions, health care and pay of workers,” Larson said. ” And these are the deepest cuts in a generation. But this bill doesn’t take away our workers’ ability to organize.”

Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) describes the alternative bill as “listening to the people of Wisconsin, not the Koch Brothers, not the Club for Growth or the other special interest pushing this assault on working Wisconsin families.”

The alternative bill is ready to be introduced on both the Assembly and Senate floors, as soon as the Republicans agree to it. Larson said both chambers would have to dismiss the original budget repair bills, AB11 and SB11, before beginning debate on this proposal.

Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha)

Larson said agreement on this compromise bill would bring his caucus back, but that agreement will need the assistance of moderate Republicans who have been wavering in their support of the original document offered by Walker.

Earlier on Tuesday, Walker released some of the emails exchanged between his staff and Democrat Senators. He said the emails demonstrate that he has been working to end the impasse on the budget repair bill.

But early last night, Walker rebuffed an invitation to meet with Barca, union leaders and members of the media, calling it “political grandstanding.”  The meeting with Barca was previously scheduled for this morning, but representatives requested opening it up to union leaders and the media in an effort to demonstrate “a good-faith effort toward negotiating.”

Will the negotiations finally move forward in earnest? Does the Democrats’ alternative budget repair have a chance? Will a moderate Republican come forward?  Your guess is as good as anyone’s.

0 thoughts on “A possible compromise in Madison?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hope things get compromised soon – I’ve got 6 weeks of tax season left and don’t need the additional stress

  2. Anonymous says:

    do you have a source for the actual test of the compromise bill?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Text I mean

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unions before schools and the most populous region in the state. Meanwhile the roadbuilders are totally untouchable, soaring above the fray.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I assume that we are all hoping that a compromise can be reached, but I have my doubts. “Beam-Me-Up Scottie” seems determined to have his way or nothing! His legislative cohorts, however, may be seeing the dangers of blindly following this leader, and may be willing to see the light…

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about all the other crap in this Trojan Horse bill? What happens with the no-bid contracts for sale of power plants, control of Medicade funds, political appointees heading state departments, etc. etc. much of which has been masked from view by larger attention to collective bargaining rights.

  7. Anonymous says:

    For all of you looking for the text of the alternative bill, please click on the words “alternative bill” in the first line of paragraph six in the story. Or go to this link:

  8. Anonymous says:

    What kind of compromise is this? This is a joke. What is the compromise here? This is the same stuff that the fleebaggers have been stating for 3 weeks. Public employees should not be able to unionize, why cant people see the conflict of interest here? Miller and the rest of the 13 Democrats are a joke and should get back to Madison and represent all of their residents not just the unions.

    When the Dems did their budget repair bill that had numerous tax increases, and NO public debate, where was all of the outrage? The Republicans did not go flee of to Illinois, like spoiled children.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The only tangible compromise thus far in this issue has been the unions willingness to accept the benefit cut. Which to me they shouldn’t have. At least not so quickly, as this could have been the big compromise needed to get things back to work.As mentioned above there are so many things in this bill that show Walkers disdain for the common people, and it seems animals as well.
    The unions have the target on their backs right now, but Walker’s agenda has always been about destroying public education. The unions are just the buffer between him and his power mad drive to control everything he can get his grimy hands on.
    Milwaukee teachers offset pay raises to keep their benefits. This doesn’t get a lot of press. In addition they had to accept a lesser health plan. I would invite Scott Walker to find a health plan for all government employees, himself and the legislators. One plan for all, with all paying into the fund based on a percentage of wages. Then we would see how things are. Same thing with retirement.
    Patti you do a great job. Thanks for the forum. I could go on and on on this thing.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Caution: The forced passing of the bill that happened this evening was a fake pass. If the senators come back, they will pass it for real. I hope the democratic senators stay away from Wisconsin until the people have control of the senate. This is just a ploy to get the Democrats to come back so they can pass the bill

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