The Legislature this week failed to pass state employee contracts that run up through July of next year, leaving the task to the new Republican majority. Those contracts are already 18 months overdue, and the outcome of the extraordinary session could lead to even longer delays.
Democratic state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) expects it will take some time to get new contracts approved because renegotiations are likely.
Hansen, who was named Majority Leader Wednesday night when Democrats ousted Senator Russ Decker from leadership, says state workers need to just “hang in there” and “hope for the best.”
Governor-elect Scott Walker has said he wants to see more concessions from state workers, such as pay cuts and higher pension contributions. Outgoing Senate President Fred Risser (D-Madison) argues state employees have already given up a lot to help ease state budget problems and it’s unfair to put the “entire state burden” on the backs of dedicated workers.
The Governor-elect has also floated the idea of decertifying state employee unions, which Democrats claim is a sign that Walker is unwilling to work on a compromise. Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says lawmakers should not rush to judgment. He believes Walker will make a good faith effort to sit down at the table with union leaders and reach an agreement.
However, Fitzgerald expects all options will be on the table when it comes to addressing the state budget deficit.