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State Assembly Begins Debate on Gov's Budget Repair Bill

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The rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, WI
The rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, WI

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to begin its debate Tuesday on the budget repair bill that’s attracted thousands of protestors in Madison over the last week.

Minority Democrats plan to offer more than 100 amendments. The Senate will also meet, even though 14 Democrats are still in Illinois to block a vote on the budget package in their house.

GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald said he would not move the most controversial part of the package to another bill – the one that takes away bargaining rights for most state and local public unions. But Fitzgerald says the Senate can vote on other non-fiscal measures to try and lure the Democrats back – including one they strongly oppose which would make voters show photo ID’s at the polls.

That measure couldn’t come up any earlier than Wednesday, since it’s up for a committee vote Tuesday.

The budget package is meant to cover a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget that expires June 30th. Republican Governor Scott Walker says it’s needed to bring labor costs down – and to help state and local governments and schools deal with big drops in state aid in the next two years.

But the unions say it’s a direct attack on them. National groups helped organize the protests, and have joined them. But Walker warned them Monday that he’ll side with, “the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin” whom he says agree with him.

Walker will further state his case directly to Wisconsinites Tuesday night at 6 p.m. It will be on the Wisconsin Eye cable channel.

Among the amendments the Assembly will consider Tuesday would keep union rights for transit workers, after the U.S. Labor Department said it might pull over $40 million in aid to local bus systems if they change their bargaining arrangements. But GOP finance chair Robin Vos calls that a “gray area.” And he’ll work to kill that change.

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