Republican senators in Wisconsin broke the weeks long stalemate over Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reforms last night. In short, once it became clear that senate democrats, who had fled the state to delay action on the bill, were unwilling negotiate republicans amended the bill to remove appropriations and passed the collective bargaining reforms without them.
Christian Schneider explains:
The Wisconsin Constitution requires a quorum of three-fifths of the Senate in order to pass a bill that “imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state.” For weeks, it had been known that Republican senators could separate the fiscal provisions of the bill from the proposed collective-bargaining changes, which were seen as non-fiscal. However, there was speculation that, if a bill was brought to the Senate floor that contained only the collective bargaining changes, it might not have the votes to pass.
On Wednesday night, the bill passed with a number of provisions that could be considered “fiscal,” such as the requirement that many government employees contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions and pay 12.6 percent towards their health-insurance premiums.
GOP senators consulted with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on this point, and were sent a memo indicating that while there were some “fiscal” provisions of the bill, these provisions didn’t technically make an “appropriation,” and therefore were not subject to the three-fifth quorum requirement. This allowed senators to keep the bill virtually intact, which the GOP felt helped bolster their argument that all the collective bargaining changes were, in fact, fiscal in nature.
What is perhaps most stunning is that Fitzgerald’s maneuver tonight seems to have caught the Democrat Minority Leader completely off guard. Senators Miller and Fitzgerald have access to the same legislative attorneys and were likely given the same options for resolution. “I think [Miller] actually thought he was going to win,” said one GOP source.
Frankly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the fleebagging Democrats or the public employee unions who have been acting like a bunch spoiled children for the past three weeks… As Bob Owens notes: “if you refuse to take part in representative democracy, and in fact encourage your representatives to abdicate their roles as your representatives within the government, don’t cry foul when the elected officials doing their jobs find a way to pass the legislation before them.”
And that’s really the bottom line here, to paraphrase President Obama, Elections have consequences, and Republicans won. Democrats in state legislature and the leaders of the states public employee unions had a choice to make they could either participate in the process and work with Gov. Walker and the Republican majorities in legislature to find a compromise. Or they could stomp their feet and whine about unfairness or how “This is not democracy!”… They chose not to participate and got run over by the process.
- Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin – Scott Walker, Wall Street Journal
- Strange But True Provisions of Collective Bargaining – Office of Gov. Scott Walker
- Capitol Chaos: Lawmakers Get Death Threats – WTMJ Radio
- Endgame in Wisconsin – Robert Costa, National Review Online