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Assembly Minority Leader: Dems Consider Challenge to Budget Vote

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A member of the State Assembly Democrats waves as supporters cheer after the party spoke in the Assembly to voice their opinion against the proposed bill by Republican Governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin, February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
A member of the State Assembly Democrats waves as supporters cheer after the party spoke in the Assembly to voice their opinion against the proposed bill by Republican Governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin, February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says Democrats will consider challenging the vote overnight to pass the GOP’s virtual end to public employee union bargaining.

Majority Republicans rapidly cut off debate just after 1 a.m. Friday on the measure, which is part of a bill to close the state’s current budget deficit. The vote was called so rapidly that 25 Democrats, two Republicans, and the lone independent couldn’t push their voting buttons on time.

As a result, the bill passed 51 to 17 with Republicans Dean Kaufert, Lee Nerison, Travis Tranel, and Richard Spanbauer joining Democrats in voting no. Democrats erupted after the vote, yelling “Shame Shame” as they threw papers and what appeared to be a drink in the air.

Most Republicans were escorted out by police officers, and many refused comment. Oconomowoc Republican Joel Kleefisch said the GOP sped up the vote because the Democrats were stalling and, “We did what the people of this state asked us to do on November 2nd – get spending under control.”

But Barca said his GOP colleagues were, “willing to ignore the traditions that people died for in this state, that people fought bitterly for.” He was referring to the more than five decades after public employee unions won the privilege of collective bargaining.

Under the new bill, they can only bargain for their wages if they’re at or below inflation. And they still have civil service job protections that the Legislature’s Finance Committee recently extended to local workers as well as state employees.

Local police and fire unions are exempt from the cutbacks. The Senate will now take up the package, as soon as at least one Democrat returns from an 8-day-old boycott designed to hold up a vote on the bill.

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