Will the final state budget cut out the governor? A budget conference committee meets this evening. Where does that leave Governor Jim Doyle? Senate Majority Leader, Russ Decker, was asked about that this afternoon. "The governor's always in play, he's at the beginning, he's there at the end, so we'll be talking to the governor," said Decker. "Well, the governor's people, I should say."
"It sounds like the governor's been cut out of the whole thing, to me," said Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. "It'll be interesting to see if they push this right up to the final minute, 'cause obviously he doesn't have the ability then to veto anything. So if they give him kind of a bag of goods, that he doesn't know what's in it, that's going to make it very difficult."
Governor Doyle has insisted this week that he wants a finished budget on his desk before July 1st, to allow three or four days to assess it and plan vetoes. "Hopefully we get it done, optimistically by the weekend, if we can. If Fitz has the Republicans concur with everything, we're on a roll," said Decker. "We don't know what's in it," replied Fitzgerald, which drew a laugh from Decker.
Decker may indeed have the last laugh. Fitzgerald, asked about his expectations for the conference committee process, predicted it would be a "dog and pony show, total eyewash," with a product that will be the result of closed door negotiations between Decker, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, and other Democrats.
Senate President Fred Risser this afternoon named Decker, Fitzgerald and Senator Mark Miller to the conference committee, while Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson named Sheridan, Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, and state Representative Mary Hubler, a Rice Lake Democrat who is not in leadership and who did not serve on the Joint Finance Committee.
AUDIO: Reporters Q&A with Senators Decker, Fitzgerald (4:45 MP3)