Source: Wis. Dem State Senators Block Budget Quorum — State Patrol Could Be Called In

February 17, 2011 7:47 am

A Democratic source in Wisconsin has confirmed to TPMDC that, in the heated budget battle going on in that state, the minority state Senate Democratic caucus walked out within the last few hours — which would deprive the legislature of the three-fifths majority needed for a quorum on budgetary matters. And if this goes on, the GOP leaders could call in the State Patrol.

The source has confirmed that the chamber is conducting a quorum call, and no Democrats are present. There are 33 total members of the chamber, 19 Republicans to 14 Democrats, with 20 members required under the state Constitution to be present in order to pass the budget.

And as WisPolitics now reports:

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Dems are refusing to come to the floor to debate and vote on the bill.

Fitzgerald said at some point, if needed, Republicans will use the State Patrol to round up Democrats to bring them to the floor.

Under Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan, as TPM has posted, most state workers would no longer be able to negotiate for better pensions or health benefits or anything other than higher salaries, which couldn’t rise at a quicker pace than the Consumer Price Index. Walker and state Republican leaders have said the plan to limit the collective bargaining rights of state employees is necessary to deal with the state’s budget shortfall.

According to the Associated Press: “The proposal would effectively remove unions’ right to negotiate in any meaningful way. Local law enforcement and fire employees, as well as state troopers and inspectors would be exempt.”

In the past week, the state Capitol has been deluged with protests, and some schools have closed as a result of teachers calling in sick en masse.

This post has been updated from the original.

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