Debate on a major amendment to the state budget bill broke down into partisan attacks Thursday night, after nearly five hours of majority Democrats rejecting amendments offered by Republicans.

Tempers flared after State Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) began reading listings for attorneys out of a phone book, claiming they were the only people who would benefit from the budget plan being considered.  When co-chairs on the committee challenged Vos, he launched in to reading from the actual amendment.

An attempt by JFC Co-chair Mark Pocan (D-Madison) to stop the demonstration resulted in a heated argument about trying to obstruct debate on the budget motion.

State Representative Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) told Vos it was quickly becoming “theater of the absurd,” and the whole process risked becoming a joke if he were to continue.  She urged the Racine Republican to let debate continue.

Eventually, Vos relented after saying his intent was not to obstruct passage of the budget, but to give other Republicans on the committee time to review the amendment.

The measure dealt with a large portion of the budget, in areas such as school aids, a tax on cell phone service, medical assistance programs, and shared revenue to local governments.  It passed on a 12-4 party line vote.

AUDIO: Listen to the exchange (MP3 17:01)

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