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Report: GOP, Democrats in Wisconsin polarized on most issues

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A few months before he quit, former state Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder said the Legislature was only polarized on the big issues.

He was wrong. Gannett Wisconsin Media analyzed over 1,500 legislative votes from the past five years, and found that lawmakers voted with a member of the opposing party just 16 percent of the time.

Republicans marched in unison 98 percent of the time in the 2011 and 2012 session -- and Democrats toed their party line 91 percent of the time.

Some legislative veterans have lamented the loss of compromise, blaming it for their decisions to retire.

Janesville Senate Democrat Tim Cullen said the Capitol is dominated by big campaign money, and there's a "hunger" in the state to act sensibly. Outgoing Senate Republican Dale Schultz said the prevailing attitude is that lawmakers should only represent those who voted for them -- and it breeds bitterness.

But Marquette pollster Charles Franklin said Schultz has voted with the GOP over 90 percent of his career -- and the party bosses have made him a pariah based on only a few key votes.

Still, both houses don't sing the same tune. The Senate has a much slimmer GOP majority, causing leader Scott Fitzgerald to shy away from some hot button bills passed by the Assembly -- including a pair of anti-abortion measures and a 70 mile an hour speed limit. They're expected to die when the current session ends in April.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)