Budgetary bills require a three-fifths (20 members) to reach quorum, but non-budget bills only require a simple majority.
Since Republicans have the majority they could very well separate the collective bargaining part of the budget bill in its own separate bill. That way Republicans can pass it in the absence of the AWOL Democrats that are at some undisclosed location. The Daily Caller has more:
Wisconsin’s Senate can move forward on many pieces of legislation — and could eliminate some or all collective bargaining rights for public sector workers — even without the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Chicago.
Wisconsin’s Senate needs a quorum, or 20 senators, to proceed on any spending or fiscal business. There are only 19 Republican state senators, and because all the Democrats fled, the Senate can’t hold a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget. But a quorum isn’t needed for most non-spending legislation.
Newly elected state Sen. Leah Vukmir, a Tea Party favorite, told The Daily Caller the Senate could separate the removal of collective bargaining rights for state and local employees from the spending bill if the Democrats refuse to return. Vukmir said she’s not yet sure if Wisconsin’s Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald will do so, but said it’s a possibility.
“All the collective bargaining stuff could be done as a separate bill,” Vukmir said in a phone interview. “I’m not certain if we’re going to do that at this point.”
If there is any hesitation in doing this I am not sure why. Democrats would have no problem doing it. After all, Democrats did not have any problem breaking protocol by leaving the state to stop the legislative process because they lacked the votes to do so otherwise. I guess it is nice to have options though. I say extend the ultimatum and if Democrats decline to return to work – go for it!