Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller has had his staff hand-deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Governor Scott Walker, seeking a meeting at the Illinois-Wisconsin border to resolve the impasse over the proposal to strip public employee collective bargaining rights. Discussions have been ongoing but apparently faltered last Thursday, and this offer is an effort to restart them.
In the letter, Miller notes that the public has made their preferences known on the budget repair bill and their support for state workers’ collective bargaining rights. He also says that the public wants both sides to resolve their differences.
Since the bill’s introduction, public workers have come forward to offer economic concessions and Democrats have offered a number of proposals to try to reach a bipartisan resolution.
I assure you that Democratic State Senators, despite our differences and the vigorous debate we have had, remain ready and willing to find a reasonable compromise. To that end, I would ask that you or your authorized representatives agree to meet with us near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible.
My guess would be that Miller is well aware that Walker and Fitzgerald are unlikely to agree to these terms. Fitzgerald did travel to the border to negotiate with two Senate Democrats last week, but he pointedly did not include Miller, the Minority Leader, in that discussion. The goal for the Republicans in Wisconsin seems to be to pick off just one Senator willing to come back to Madison so they can get a quorum and pass the bill.
Polls show that the public in Wisconsin wants a negotiated compromise, and a rejection of this offer will just fuel the efforts to recall Republican State Senators and flip the Senate to a Democratic majority. Sources in Wisconsin say that these efforts are going extremely well, with large numbers of volunteers turning out and thousands of signatures gathered. Tea party groups are attempting recalls on their side as well, but if the success of the Americans for Prosperity bus tour is any indication, their efforts are far more muted.
So there’s serious pressure on Republicans to resolve this and even make concessions, though that doesn’t mean Walker, who has shown no interest in compromise, will buckle to those demands.
UPDATE: And Walker rejects the meeting. That was quick!