Utilizing a simple parliamentary move, the Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate passed a measure terminating collective bargaining rights for state employees in all areas except base salary. The bill also raises the amount of money state employees must contribute to their health care benefits and retirement fund. Police and firefighters are exempt from this measure.
When the collective bargaining issue came up for a Senate vote last month, the Wisconsin Senate Democrats, faced with certain passage of the bill by the Republican majority, chose to walk out of the capitol and, subsequently, to flee the state. Their absence left only
19 Republicans in the Senate chamber, one member short of the required
quorum of 20 out of the 33 Senate members.
Wisconsin state law states that a quorum must be present to debate and vote on “budget bills” that
contain provisions for the appropriation of state funds. Today, Senate Republicans amended the existing bill to remove several sections that dealt with the appropriation of state funds, including a $165 million bond restructuring and the no-bid sale of 37 state power plants. According to the Republicans, the amended bill was deemed acceptable for a non-quorum Senate vote by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau; all are respected non-partisan organizations that act as state legislative watchdogs.
The Senate vote took place this evening, with one Republican member voting “no”, resulting in passage of the bill by the Senate 18 – 1. A motion to vote on the amended bill as passed by the Senate was
introduced in the State Assembly today over vigorous objections from
Democrats, but the Republican majority passed the motion. The bill will be presented to the Assembly tomorrow (Thursday) where it is expected to pass easily.
Presumably speaking by telephone from their super-secret bunker somewhere in Illinois, several AWOL Democrat senators blasted the vote, calling it “political suicide” and a “travesty.” And thanks to another Senate bill, they will each pay a $100 fine for missing today’s vote.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued the following statement:
“The people of Wisconsin elected us to do a job. They elected us to stand up to the broken status quo, stop the constant
expansion of government, balance the budget, create jobs and improve
the economy. The longer the Democrats keep up this childish stunt, the
longer the majority can’t act on our agenda.”
After today’s Senate vote, protesters swarmed the capitol building, reportedly breaking windows and doors and over-running capitol security. Mass protests are expected tomorrow, and rumors of a state-wide ‘solidarity’ walk-out by Wisconsin union workers are also circulating. Other reports claim that the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are on their way back to Madison and will be at the capitol tomorrow … just in time to see the bill pass the State Assembly.
Governor Walker had this to say about today’s vote:
“The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this
bill and were
offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused. In
order to move the state forward, I applaud the Legislature’s
action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right
direction to balance the budget and reform government.”
Exactly. Governor Walker and the Republicans were elected by the people of Wisconsin to get the state’s budget back under control. This time, the Democrat “fleebaggers” ran out of options and lost.
For those who want more details, Allapundit is has an extensive post over at HotAir.com with numerous updates.
ADDED: Bryan Preston at HotAir.com notes: “Remember when ObamaCare passed, and Tea Partiers went nuts, stormed the
hill, took over the building and handcuffed themselves inside? Yeah, me
neither, because the Tea Partiers are civilized and didn’t do any of
that. Wisconsin’s leftist union thugs, not so much.”
It seems to me that Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans brilliantly played the Democrats and the unions using Alinsky’s tactic # 11: If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
Union sympathizers have been busy rallying solidarity and painting the conflict as a struggle between “the rich and the poor”. But under pressure from a Republican administration that refused to back down, they cracked, and are now launching a full-frontal assault against the Governor through vandalism and thuggery. Protesters have already done over $7 million in damage to the state capitol. I doubt that more rioting and vandalism will move the general public to support their cause.