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Gov. Elect-Walker and GOP Legislators want lame duck session stopped

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November 30, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

Governor-elect Scott Walker has requested an end to a special session of the state legislature.

MADISON, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Governor-Elect Scott Walker and Republican leaders in the State Legislature are pressing to stop a lame duck session geared towards approving union contracts for state employees.

The Wisconsin Governor-Elect sent a letter to outgoing Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville, 44th District) and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Wausau Area, 29th District) demanding that the lame duck session be stopped.[1] In the letter, Walker said: "bringing the Legislature into a extraordinary or a special session with the sole purpose of finalizing public employee union contracts before my inauguration will likely lead to a need for more aggressive spending cuts." The Governor-Elect pressed both Sheridan and Decker to: "please delay further action on these contracts so we can fully evaluate its impact on the next state budget."[1]

Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald demanded that the outgoing Democrat leaders of the Legislature release the contracts to the public and the media. The Republican leader of the State Senate said: “if the deals have been cut and the lame-duck session is already in motion, what’s the need for all the secrecy? The taxpayers, the ones actually paying the bills, deserve some transparency here."[2] Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald also expressed serious concern involving the secrecy and timing of the lame duck session. The Republican Leader of the State Assembly said: "having Jim Doyle lead the ousted Democrats through a rushed extraordinary session with little or no review should raise numerous red flags.”[3]

However, Assembly Democrats representing the Madison Metro Area denounced the calls of Legislative Republicans and the Governor-Elect to stop a lame duck session. Rep. Joseph Parisi (D-Madison East Side/East Suburbs, 48th District) said: “Republicans are attempting to make something nefarious out of the workers’ contracts, but these workers have been dutifully performing their jobs every day for 18 months, without a contract, based on money that has already been budgeted.” Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison West Side, 76th District) also decried calls to stop a lame-duck session by stating that: “these workers (state employees) have spent the past year-and-a-half doing more with less every day on the job. To go back and try to take money away from paychecks they’ve already earned would be unjust and demoralizing.”[4]

According to Senator Fitzgerald, a lame duck session may happen after the December 10, 2010, deadline to return ballots in order to ratify the agreements.[2]

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