The state budget is now three months late, and a conference committee formed to solve the impasse has only met 18 times since July. State Representative Joe Parisi (D-Madison) says that's unacceptable.
Parisi and fellow Assembly Democrats are introducing the Budget Deadline Enforcement Act, which would impose strict requirements on when the budget conference committee would have to meet. It starts by requiring the committee meet Monday thru Friday for 8 hours a day the first week a budget is late. Those meetings would then add an extra hour each week if an agreement still hasn't been made.
The bill would also require membership of the conference committee to remain the same, with lawmakers required to be there at all times unless an illness or family emergency gets in the way. Not showing up at the table could also result police being used to bring lawmakers back to the Capitol.
The proposal is one of several bills imposing penalties for an overdue budget. However, Parisi says his plan is the only one with a “real hammer” to bring down on lawmakers. He says it provides a direct mechanism to force the conference committee to meet, compared to a government shutdown which may just end up hurting the state.