Wisconsin Democratic leader still hopes for GOP compromise

By Reuters
Saturday, February 19, 2011 18:58 EDT
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MADISON (Reuters) – A leading Wisconsin Democrat said on Saturday he still hopes Republicans will back away from moves to sharply reduce state workers’ collective bargaining rights, which have sparked mass protests.

“My hope is before Tuesday enough Republicans will recognize this proposal is over-reaching and the support for this proposal wanes. I’ve been told some Republicans will reconsider,” State Assemblyman and Minority Leader Peter Barca told Reuters by phone.

The Wisconsin State Assembly is due to take up the proposals on Tuesday. The measures would also reduce state worker benefits in an effort to deal with a burgeoning budget deficit.

State Senate consideration has been blocked by lack of a quorum as Democratic members boycott the deliberations. They have been staying out of state, apparently from fear Republican Governor Scott Walker and his legislative majority might try to compel their attendance.

The Republican majority in the Assembly is big enough that getting a quorum there is not an issue.

Barca expressed solidarity with his Senate colleagues as well as the tens of thousands of protesters who have been registering their opposition to the legislation in Madison this week, and said he did not know when the senators would return.

“It’s been a very intense and tense week,” Barca said, “but I understand and support the Senators in what they are doing.”

Barca said the senators are disappointed in what he termed the “naked power grab” by Walker, adding that he hoped the governor would “compromise and end this chaos” before the Assembly reconvenes.

(Writing by Eric Johnson; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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