The Wisconsin legislature has passed a budget repair bill aimed at closing a $137 million deficit this fiscal year. The Senate session – the first with the chamber’s 14 Democrats since their return to Madison – was a contentious one. Senate President Mike Ellis had to gavel down Milwaukee Democrats Tim Carpenter, Lena Taylor, Chris Larson and Bob Jauch, and Republican Frank Lasee, as the lawmakers wandered off the subject of budget repair and into more contentious territory. Carpenter at one point referred to “the governor, King Walker,” which drew a rebuke from Ellis. “I apologize for calling him King Walker, I will not call him that again on the Senate floor,” said Carpenter, who had offered one of four proposed amendments, all of which were tabled by the majority Republicans.
Ellis reprimanded Taylor when she said the budget repair bill does “an assault” on seniors and low-income workers. Taylor had earlier referred to the measure as “reverse Robin Hood” legislation, and her fellow Milwaukee Senator Spencer Coggs recalled that line when he said the bill’s passage would put the Senate in “a Sherwood Forest of shame.” Ellis gaveled down Jauch when he brought up the issue of collective bargaining. “We did not have to turn back the clock 52 years to accomplish it,” said Jauch. “This bill does not deal with collective bargaining,” said Ellis. “Stay on the bill.”
“We can’t say we’re for the people when they shut down the debate in the Assembly, because it was going on and people wouldn’t shut up about the way the bill would go,” said Milwaukee Democrat Chris Larson, referring to public hearings on the original bill which included the contentious changes to collective bargaining which are now tied up in courts. That remark drew another gavel rap from Ellis. “Let’s stay on the passage of Senate Bill 12, not the conduct of another house which we have no control over,” said Ellis. Ellis also had to gavel down Lasee when he brought up the issue of collective bargaining.
The bill passed on a 22-11 vote, with Jauch and fellow Democrats Tim Cullen and Jim Holperin voting with the Republican majority. In the Assembly, Democrats offered only two amendments, and Milwaukee Representative Elizabeth Coggs was the sole Democrat to vote for the measure.