It’s been two weeks since 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats left Madison for Illinois – and a return remains up in the air. At a Capitol press conference Wednesday, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Fitzgerald said he was told Tuesday by Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen that “five or six” Democrats would be in Madison for Wednesday’s floor session. That didn’t happen, and left Fitzgerald characterizing the Democratic caucus as chaotic. “Senator Erpenbach is the voice box in Chicago, some of the Senators aren’t participating in their meetings, I was told, and some people have not been seen in days,” said Fitzgerald.
Minority Leader Mark Miller’s reaction? The Monona Democrat laughed. “Our caucus is unified, and we know why we are here,” Miller said. “First we were standing up for the workers, because they were so attacked in the budget repair bill. Now we have to figure out how we stand up for the people of Wisconsin, because that is our ultimate responsibility. We need to figure out the best way to do that.”
Miller continues to maintain Democrats want to negotiate changes to Governor Walker’s budget repair bill, while Fitzgerald said his only interest is in getting the Democrats back to Madison for a vote. He said he made it clear to the two Democrats (Senators Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen) he met with in Kenosha on Monday that he would not be discussing amendments to the budget repair. Miller lays the blame for the ongoing demonstrations at the Capitol squarely on Governor Walker. “The dividing of the state is solely because the governor insists on his way, not trying to find a way to heal the wounds that he has created, and not find a compromise position,” said Miller. “I know how to find compromise. Democrats will soon face a $100 dollar fine for every session day they miss: Fitzgerald said the Senate will take up separate resolutions imposing the fine on each of the missing 14 Democrats.