Gov. Walker considering union concessions, emails show
After three weeks of large protests, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appears to be willing to make concessions on his budget repair bill, according to an email sent to Democratic state Senator Bob Jauch.
The email, along with others from the governor’s office, were obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open-records request.
According to the latest email sent to Sen. Jauch, Gov. Walker’s aides offered to amend his bill so that it would no longer limit public employee union bargaining over wages, mandatory overtime, bonuses, and hazardous duty pay.
The emails show that Gov. Walker began discussing possible concessions on the bill last week, but Republicans and Democrats have yet to reach a final deal.
Republicans in Wisconsin claimed the collective bargaining rights of public employees needed to be limited so the state could avoid laying off workers due to a budget gap of $137 million in the current fiscal year, but Democrats countered that Republicans, including Gov. Walker, had not been willing to negotiate with them.
In mid-February, 14 state senators left Wisconsin to avoid voting on the bill. There are 19 Republican senators, but the Senate needs a minimum of 20 members present to debate and vote on the bill.
The Wisconsin Senate passed a resolution last week allowing for the arrest of the 14 senators that left the state. The measure said that Democrats were violating a Senate rule by not taking a leave of absence before being gone for more than one day.
According to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the budget repair bill must be voted on in its current form because the Wisconsin Assembly, which also has a Republican majority, has already passed the bill.
The fight over public employee’s union bargaining rights may have harmed Wisconsin Republicans chances at re-election.
If voters in Wisconsin could repeat the 2010 gubernatorial election, the majority would support defeated Democrat Tom Barrett over Walker, according to a report by Public Policy Polling.
Additionally, the Wisconsin Democratic Party has launched a campaign to recall key Republican senators who have aligned themselves with the governor’s budget repair bill.