Dane 101 (one of the great sites of the Cheddarsphere, all of which have been invaluable to covering the Wisconsin story) has collected statements from 11 out of the Fab 14 Senate Democrats, all of which announce their unity of purpose and their desire to meet with the Governor to move this forward. Scott Walker’s contention that Mark Miller was holding up things does not fit with these statements.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, another state Senator has stressed his willingness to be flexible. As you know, Republicans control the Senate 19-14, so a shift of only three on this issue would change the balance of power. Sen. Dale Schultz (R) has already called for compromise and basically said he’d oppose the bill. Now we have Sen. Rob Cowles.
Republicans should be willing to meet Democrats halfway on aspects of collective bargaining that have little or no monetary impact, longtime Republican Sen. Rob Cowles said Monday evening.
In a telephone conversation with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Cowles, R-Allouez, said Republicans already got the lion’s share of what they were looking for from unions in pension and health care contributions, and a compromise with Democrats on the rest of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill is expected soon.
“The important part is the monetary concessions. That’s the part that helps balance the budget. The other things are less monetary in nature,” said Cowles, co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
“It’s the challenge of the senate to go through those and find a conclusion on items that have little or no connection to finance.”
The Republican leadership in the state Senate “engrossed” the bill, making it non-amendable. But if it cannot pass in its current form, they could create a new bill and send it back to the Assembly. Of course, the vote previously in the Assembly was a fiasco, and they may not want to touch the bill again. The other option would be a rider to a future bill restoring some collective bargaining pieces, including attaching it to the two-year budget.
Cowles still said he would vote for the budget repair bill, but this is a game of inches, and it’s the Republicans who are moving and becoming more flexible (a word Cowles used more than once).
It so happens that Cowles is one of the Republican 8 who are facing a recall election. I don’t recall him ever speaking this candidly before, and it comes right after a weekend of organizing in his district. Someone should check in with all of the Republican 8, particularly Sen. Alberta Darling, the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, who saw 600 volunteers collecting signatures in her district over the weekend, mainly recruited based on a Facebook page and a dogged organizer named Kristopher Rowe.
I think it’s pretty clear these recall threats are having an impact.