Wisconsin Republicans Go Nuclear!

Game over – unions lose!

The legislative debate over eliminating collective bargaining rights for government workers will soon be concluded.  After weeks of creative incentives to encourage Democrats to go back to the Senate and do their jobs Republicans decided to pull the nuclear option – that is splitting the collective bargaining part of the budget bill off and passing it as a separate piece of legislation.  Non-fiscal matters do not require a the quorum that fiscal matters do in order to conduct business.  From JS:

The Senate abruptly passed a controversial budget-repair bill Wednesday night – without Democrats – and sent the measure to the Assembly, which is expected to pass it Thursday.

The bill eliminates almost all collective bargaining for public workers.

It passed18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) casting the no vote. None of the 14 Senate Democrats was present.

Democrats have been able to block a vote on the bill for three weeks because 20 senators had to be present to vote for it. Republicans control the house 19-14.

But late Wednesday, a committee stripped some elements from the bill that they said allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present. The most controversial parts of the bill remain intact.

Why did Republicans go nuclear?  Because Democrats made it clear that they had no intention of returning back to Madison to do their jobs.  They had their bank drafts suspended, fines levied, and other measures taken to encourage them to return to work but they simply refused!

Hot Air points out the Irony Of The Day from fleebagger Democrat Chris Larson:

What Republicans did was an affront to democracy. Never shall a voter doubt which party stands for the working class, and which for the rich

…and running away from a vote to shut down the legislative process is?

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s statement:

“Before the election, the Democrats promised “adult leadership” in Madison. Then a month and a half into session, the Senate Democrats fled the state instead of doing their job.

“In doing so, they have tarnished the very institution of the Wisconsin state Senate.  This is unacceptable.

“This afternoon, following a week and a half of line-by-line negotiation, Sen. Miller sent me a letter that offered three options: 1) keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 2) take our counter-offer, which would keep collective bargaining as is with no changes, 3) or stop talking altogether.

“With that letter, I realized that we’re dealing with someone who is stalling indefinitely, and doesn’t have a plan or an intention to return.  His idea of compromise is “give me everything I want,” and the only negotiating he’s doing is through the media.

“Enough is enough.

“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.

Who will pay the bigger political price over this power struggle remains to be seen.  For now it is labor unions that is the big loser.  I predict that in the end as long as Republicans keep the budget under control the public will warm up to them like they did with New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie.  Time will tell!

Update:  Now Democrats decide to go back home:

The leader of Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate says his caucus will return to the state, but he won’t say when…

Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller of Monona says Democrats will “join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government,” but he refused to say when.

Update: Collective bargaining was not split from the bill.  Instead the bill was amended to allow it to pass without a quorum:

The legislation being voted on tonight has few changes from the bill as initially proposed. The bill removes a refinancing provision and doesn’t count savings during this fiscal year accrued by requiring public employees to pay more for their pensions and health insurance.* But it would still save the state $300 million over the next two years by requiring state employees to contribute about 5% of income toward their pensions and by requiring state workers to pay for about 12% of their health insurance premiums. It would also save $1.44 billion by requiring public employees in school districts and municipalities to pay 5% of their salaries toward their pensions and by removing collective bargaining for benefits, thus giving school districts and municipalities the option of requiring their employees to pay about 12% for their health insurance premiums.

“We are not splitting the bill. It’s an an amended bill,” says one source, who explains that the state’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has said that such a vote could take place without a three-fifths quorum required for some fiscal bills. “It still has a fiscal impact, but doesn’t appropriate money,” which is why the senate can vote on the bill with a simple majority present.

“All the collective bargaining and everything else is the same as the original bill.”