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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

 12:49 PM 

Senate approves second budget repair bill

The Senate voted 22-11 this afternoon to approve the guv’s second budget repair bill after Sen. Bob Jauch complained the state could have avoided the last six weeks of tensions if the legislation had been introduced in February without the collective bargaining changes.

The guv’s first budget repair bill included the fiscal measures in today’s legislation as well as the collective bargaining changes and various measures targeting public employee unions.

Jauch, one of the Dems who fled the state in an attempt to hold up a vote on the collective bargaining changes, called the original bill a ruse and a hoax that was used to disguise an attempt by the guv to “assault workers rights and try to manipulate the elections next year.”

Jauch said he did not want to debate collective bargaining powers, but he said they cannot be separated from the bill before the body today because they were put together in the same legislation in February.

“You can’t pretend that somehow we’re in this wholesome and pure environment and can ignore what this bill looked like when it was introduced on Feb. 13,” said Jauch, who voted for today's bill.

Jauch’s speech prompted a warning from Senate President Mike Ellis to stay on the bill at hand, which Jauch insisted he was.

Ellis later chided Dem Sens. Tim Carpenter and Lena Taylor. He first interrupted Carpenter when the Milwaukee lawmaker questioned the guv’s motives in the changes proposed. He then chided Taylor who ripped what she said was an “assault on low-income families.”

In addition to complaining the bill would hurt the poor, Dems said the legislation used the same tricks that Gov. Scott Walker had promised he would end.

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, recalled speeches from GOP lawmakers warning of credit card financing and Walker’s promise to move away from those gimmicks to balance the budget. But he said the bill should be chalked up as “gimmick No. 1” for the Walker administration and that the refinancing amounted to borrowing $165 million to cover current obligations.

“It’s credit card financing, something the governor said he wasn’t going to do,” Risser said. “I was hoping we were going to enter a new era.”

But GOP Sen. Frank Lasee chided Dems for their claims of fiscal responsibility, saying they raised taxes and fees $4 billion in the budget they approved two years ago while still failing to take care of the state’s obligations.

Lasee, the only Republican who rose to speak on the bill, said the legislation was imperfect and he did not personally like the refinancing move. Still, he said Republicans were forced to take the step because of the various problems Dems created.

“We inherited these problems,” said Lasee, who was also chided by Ellis after Dems objected to his discussion of collective bargaining rights. “We’re here to fix them, and we have a very difficult problem to fix in the next budget.”

-- By JR Ross

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