The Department of Administration said Wednesday it would continue to implement the bill limiting collective bargaining rights, while the governor reintroduced the fiscal components stripped from the original budget repair bill.
The DOA began the process of updating their payroll system to account for the increased public employee contributions toward health care premiums and pensions shortly after the Legislative Reference Bureau published the bill online Friday, despite a Dane County Circuit Court ruling prohibiting further implementation of the bill.
DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch said in a statement Wednesday the Department of Justice concluded the bill had indeed become law and it was his duty to administer the law until a final ruling determined whether the LRB’s publication of the bill was legal or not.
“I have a legal obligation to execute all laws pertaining to my department that have been passed by both houses of the Legislature, signed by the governor and published in law,” Huebsch said in a statement. “The Department of Justice has concluded that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has met those requirements and is now effective law.”
On Tuesday, Dane County judge Maryann Sumi said she wanted to make it “crystal clear” that her original temporary restraining order prohibiting the secretary of state from publishing the bill in the Wisconsin State Journal should have enjoined further implementation of the bill. Sumi said those acting in defiance of that order could face sanctions.
However, Huebsch pointed out in his statement the DOA and LRB were not parties to the lawsuit and, he said, it is unclear how Sumi could expect to enforce an order on non-parties who have not made an appearance in court.
“Because of the questions this TRO raises, its legal effect on my implementation of Act 10 is also unclear,” Huebsch said in a statement. “DOA will continue to monitor court proceedings and work with legal counsel and the Department of Justice to determine an appropriate course of action.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker released a bill to fix the current fiscal year shortfall that contains some provisions that were stripped from the original budget repair bill in order to permit the Senate to vote without having 20 senators present. The bill includes, among other items, debt refinancing measures to save $165 million, increased Medicaid funding to fill a $176.5 million hole and $22 million to address a Department of Corrections deficit.
“This legislation will allow the state to finish this year’s budget in the black without raising taxes on the middle-class,” Walker said in a statement.
Democrats support the bill but said they wish they would have seen this latest version of the budget repair bill at the beginning of the process in February.
“My question is where has this been hiding”? Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, said. “Why didn’t they introduce this bill a month and a half ago? We would have passed it and moved on without embarrassing the state.”
The Democrats had introduced a very similar proposal earlier this year as an alternative to Walker’s plan to deal with the deficit, but nothing came of it.
Hulsey said it was comforting to see the provisions allowing no-bid sales of power plants to private entities had been removed.