A contentious legislative session has comes to a close at the Capitol. With a historically divisive Senate session at an end, there’s basic disagreement about what was accomplished. Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller changes Majority Republicans amid Governor Scott Walker have taken the state backwards. “Republicans have claimed that they made hard decisions, but in fact, their decisions were borne by working men and women, by low-income workers and the middle class, while the benefits went to wealthy corporations in our state,” said Miller, speaking with reporters after the Senate adjourned Thursday afternoon.
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald sees it differently, especially where the middle class is concerned. “If you refer to only the 300,000 individuals that may have been touched by Act 10, and describe them as the middle class of Wisconsin, I think you’re missing the mark,” said Fitzgerald.
Senators pointed the finger at each party during their closing remarks on the floor Thursday. Assistant Minority Leader Dave Hansen of Green said Democrats “believe it is possible to resolve budget concerns, without stripping away the rights of nearly 200,000 workers,” a reference to Act 10, which drastically reduced the ability of public workers in the state to bargain collectively.
“We turned the corner here in Wisconsin. I hope we don’t go back to the old way of doing things,” said Republican Senator Frank Lasee of Depere. “And when you don’t have the revenue, it does become hard to help more people. And if you tax people who are already strapped, already having a hard time of it, it makes it harder for them, too.”
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who joined Miller and Senate Democrats to speak to the media Thursday, said Republican legislative leaders and Governor Scott Walker have failed to lead on job creation. “The governor made this the centerpiece of his campaign. He said so dramatically, he would tattoo it on the foreheads of all his cabinet secretaries, that they would be focused like a laser beam on job creation.” But Barca said a fall session on job creation failed to live up to expectations – and he blamed the governor for failing to find a way forward on two other key jobs measures – on mining regulation and venture capital.
While the state Senate wrapped up the session on Thursday afternoon, the Assembly is expected to continue debating bills into the early hours of Friday morning.