Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Advertisements
Advertisements

Sleaze

On March 9, the Wisconsin State Senate voted to strip the state’s public sector unions of their ability to collectively bargain for anything beyond their salaries. The measure was a response to 14 Senate Democrats fleeing the state in order to prevent the quorum needed to pass the bill. Republicans thus resorted to a measure which stripped the bill of its “fiscal” components, negating the need for a 20-person quorum. The Assembly passed it shortly after.

If there’s anything that has characterized this saga, it has been a glaring lack of respect for the way state government is supposed to work. This was a budget repair bill that needed all of the budgetary elements taken out of it in order to pass. Additionally, Gov. Scott Walker has repeatedly argued that collective bargaining is a fiscal issue – even going so far as to threaten the layoff of 1,500 state workers in order to get his way.

The curtailing of collective bargaining deserved to be addressed independently after at least a semblance of bipartisan conversation on what the state’s workers do and don’t deserve. Instead, the bill succeeded only when its proponents legally declared their aims to have no bearing whatsoever on the crisis that originally motivated them.

Advertisements

We are similarly appalled that only one Republican senator seemed sincerely concerned enough by the deplorable tactics of his peers to offer a compromise and vote against the bill.

Though four Republican members of the Assembly ended up voting against the bill, it is hard to say whether they actually had moral qualms or if they were merely trying to save face with angry constituents. When Assembly Democrats previously introduced a new budget repair bill with all of the same benefit concessions except collective bargaining, these four had no issue voting with their party members against the bill.

Additionally, the notice for the meeting was posted less than two hours before it happened – a potential violation of Wisconsin’s open meetings law, which specifies that 24-hours advance notice must be given for votes such as this one. In certain emergency circumstances, the minimum can be reduced to two hours. But it is not remotely clear how this vote qualified as an emergency.

Public-sector employees may be the people most immediately affected by this bill, but the entire population suffers when serious discourse is treated like a relic from the previous century.

Fortunately, there are signs of hope. Secretary of State Doug La Follette, against Walker’s urging, is waiting until the last possible day, March 25, he can legally publish the law. And on March 18, Dane County District Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that Republicans violated the state’s open meetings law. The most controversial bill in recent history deserved the minimum 24-hours notice – which at the very least would have allowed the affected parties a chance to know they were getting screwed. If the opposition has its way, Wisconsinites will at least get that one trifling courtesy.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *