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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

 11:56 AM 

JCOER approves contracts

State union worker contracts are now headed to the full Legislature for votes.

The Joint Committee on Employment Relations this morning approved 16 contracts and recommended passage, setting up votes later today in the Senate and Assembly.

Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said the agreements contain $103 million in concessions from workers, including furlough days and increased worker contributions for pensions and health care.

"I think when you reach an agreement, it's time to move forward," Miller said.

But Republicans say the contracts are being rushed through by Dems before Republicans take control of both legislative houses and the governor's office in January.

Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said his caucus members have yet to be briefed on the contracts, which he says cover more than 1,200 pages.

"This is why people don't trust government anymore," he said. "People are losing faith in the process and there's no transparency any more."

But Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said details of the changes have been available for days, and the changes made to existing agreements cover only about 20 pages, which should be easy enough for lawmakers to digest.

Pocan accused Republicans of planning to "raid" the state compensation fund to "give it to the people you offered tax breaks to during the election."

He said Republicans were trying to make state employees the scapegoats for state government's fiscal problems.

Fitzgerald countered that the unions could have ratified the agreements months ago, but they "rolled the dice" on the election, hoping Dems would prevail and offer them a better deal.

"Republicans were swept in because of deals like this," he said.


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