Friday, February 25, 2011
Wisconsin assembly approves budget repair bill
After rushed procedure, vote, Democrats shout ‘shame!’ at leaving Republican members
Thursday, February 24, 2011 11:59 p.m.
Updated Friday, February 25, 2011 1:59:55 a.m.
by Andrew Averill
Republicans resorted to a surprise vote at 1:09 a.m. Friday morning to pass the governor’s controversial budget repair bill as Democrats leapt out of their chairs shouting “Shame! Shame!” at the exiting representatives.
Republicans had attempted the quick vote at least two other times earlier in the night, but Democrats, under the vocal leadership of Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, protested and demanded the speaker renounce the votes. The move came after around 61 hours of debate had taken place, largely due to Democrats taking liberty with the length of their speeches. The final count of the vote was 51-17.
Gov. Scott Walker introduced the bill two weeks ago today to address the $137 million budget shortfall. It contained provisions that would provide more executive control over medical assistance, increase state worker contributions to their pensions and health care premiums and severely limit public union members’ rights to collectively bargain.
Union leadership protesting around the Capitol and observing the rallies from across the state over the past two weeks have said they would accept the budget bill provision requiring them to pay more toward pensions and health care premiums, but would not accept losing collective bargaining rights for work conditions and benefits.
“Unions agreed to pay. It’s obvious this isn’t about money. This is about union busting plain and simple,” Rep. Christina Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, said.