The state Senate briefly met Thursday morning to officially close the extraordinary session, without taking any further action on the failed votes for 17 state employee contracts. Democratic leaders say there was no chance the votes would change to make reconsideration possible.
Majority Leader Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) says he’s still surprised by Senator Russ Decker’s (D-Wausau) last minute change of heart to vote against the agreements. He says the ousted Majority Leader had voted for them in committee and, while he would not commit to voting yes, gave no indication he would oppose them.
When the Senate went to vote on the contracts Wednesday night though, Decker rose in opposition. The only reason he gave to members was that he felt the next Legislature should take them up, following the results of big Republicans wins in November. The GOP will control both chambers next year.
Outgoing Senate President Fred Risser (D-Madison) says he’s disappointed in the outcome because union workers negotiated in good faith and they should have been approved.
Republicans opposed the contracts in the Assembly and Senate, with many objecting to the end of session attempt to push them through before the GOP takes the majority.
Incoming Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) says he was concerned about the unknown costs of the contracts. He says workers were “shafted” by the Democrats and were the victims of a feud between Decker and Governor Jim Doyle.
Governor-elect Scott Walker has praised the failed vote in the Legislature. He says the decision not to approve the contracts will give him more room to work on solutions for closing a $150 million shortfall in the current state budget. However, Democrats say state workers have already given up quite a bit and should not have to shoulder the entire burden for dealing with the deficit.