Wisconsin Radio Network: Defiant Dems vow to stay away

February 21, 2011- The Wisconsin state Senate’s 14 Democrats left Madison last week, and Republican leaders in the chamber now say they’ll be on the floor Tuesday with or without them. Provisions of Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill would radically restrict the ability of state workers to collectively bargain, and Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said Democrats will stay away as long as necessary to oppose that. “He wanted us to come back and do our jobs and debate the proposals,” Erpenbach said of statements Walker had made. “And then in the very next sentence, he says he’s not going to negotiate this. So it doesn’t make any sense to me for us come back and debate something that’s not negotiable. That’s ridiculous.”

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said the ball is in the governor’s court. “We know that a number of Republican legislators are very uncomfortable with the position the governor’s put them in, and wish that he would take them off the hook,” said Miller. “He created this problem. He introduced an extreme agenda to rob workers of their rights. It’s time for him to be a leader, not a dictator.”

State employee and teacher union leaders announced last week their members would concede the pension and health care contribution increases which Walker wants in order to help close a $235 million deficit in the state’s current two year budget – but they drew the line on what they characterized as an attack on collective bargaining. “The governor knows that he has his money to balance the budget,” said Erpenbach. “The governor knows that we support that. The governor knows that the public employees including the teachers support that. What we don’t like and what the majority of Wisconsin is very upset about is the fact that he is keeping the language in there that would strip rights away from working families all over the state of Wisconsin.”

“In a democracy, you don’t get your way all the time,” said Miller. “You have to be able to negotiate, you have to be willing to give and take. So far, Governor Walker has not shown any inclination to give and take, and he has just insisted that he has everything his way, and I think people are getting tired of it.”

FULL STORY HERE:


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