Wisconsin state Senate Democrats, who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union proposals, are walking back reports in the Wall Street Journal that they plan to return to the state.
“We are now looking at returning to the state capitol and requiring the senators to take a vote and have them declare who they’re with — the workers or the governor,” Minority Leader Mark Miller told the Journal.
A return to Wisconsin at this juncture would appear to give the green light for Walker’s legislation to pass — that is, a win for Walker’s efforts to pass legislation when numerous polls show the state disapproving of Walker, and saying he should compromise. However, at this juncture it is unclear just what is going on.
In response, Miller spokesman Mike Browne released this statement, saying only that they were continuing to negotiate towards an outcome that does not strip the bargaining rights of state workers:
“It is true that negotiations were dealt a setback since last Thursday when Governor Walker responded to a sincere Democratic compromise offer with a press conference. However, Senate Democrats have continued to reach out to the Governor and Republicans through the weekend.
Democrats remain hopeful that Governor Walker and legislative Republicans will, in the near future, listen to the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who believe they should come to the negotiating table in good faith to reach an agreement that resolves our fiscal issues without taking away worker rights and without hurting programs that help provide health insurance for working families and prescription drugs for seniors.”
In addition, state Sen. Chris Larson released this statement:
Sen. Miller’s comments are taken out of context in the Wall Street Journal article just released. Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans. Unfortunately, the WSJ fished for the quote they wanted, skipping this key step in logic: we won’t come back until worker’s rights are preserved.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach also told WisPolitics that Democrats are not planning to return. State Sen. Bob Jauch, who has been one of the lead negotiators, also said of Miller’s comments: “I think he’s speaking the truth that at some point – and I don’t know when soon is – at some point we have to say we’ve done all we can.”