Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Who really is stalling Wisconsin government?

Who is ultimately responsible for stalling Wisconsin’s state government? Is it the Democratic senators that left the state in order to prevent quorum on an atrocious bill? Or is it the governor himself, who refuses to budge on the issue of collective bargaining rights?

Put into those terms, it seems that both parties share part of the blame for having stalled our government. If Democrats returned home, it could be argued, the bill would be passed, effectively allowing the legislature to send the bill for Walker’s signature, putting government back in motion.

But in actuality, the fault DOESN’T rest with Democrats -- it's the governor whose failure to negotiate is slowing down government. Despite the terrible elements of the bills Walker is proposing, Democratic senators have indicated that they’re willing to return to Madison if collective bargaining rights were retained.

Walker won’t budget -- it's imperative (at least in his own mind) that these rights be stripped from public workers in Wisconsin.

If Walker wants to get the senators back, to pass the bill requiring an increase in the amount that public service employees pay into their pensions and health benefits, all he has to do is promise these senators that the collective bargaining rights of workers remain intact. These rights, after all, allow public service employees the ability to negotiate important aspects of their contracts, including working conditions, sick days, vacation time, and so forth.

Workers have indicated to Walker they’re willing to pay more into their benefits. But Walker sees no room for compromise, would rather hold his breath before making any deal that would be sufficient for workers and the 14 Democratic lawmakers. Even the recent emails that his office has released indicate that Walker isn’t truly committed to compromise on the issue -- one provision of his idea of compromise would only allow collective bargaining to work if both parties involved agreed to it. That plan would render bargaining rights totally dependent on the other party’s benevolence to negotiate, rendering bargaining rights useless anyway.

So who is really stalling the legislation? Who is ultimately responsible for it being held up in the senate? While technically speaking the Democrats are the ones preventing its passage, they’d happily pass the bill Walker proposed if he’d simply commit to compromise. For him to refuse to negotiate, to refuse to budge on this one issue, in the face of unions, workers, protesters, and Democrats who have already offered a very solid compromise, is a disgusting display of immaturity.

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