Until the Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate resolved the standoff over the budget-repair bill with the fleebaggers, Governor Scott Walker had prepared layoffs for 1500 state workers, and perhaps many more after that had the impasse continued. Early this morning, though, Walker directed the two state agencies involved in the furloughs to rescind the notices that Walker had sent earlier, calling off the pink slips:
Gov. Scott Walker on Friday directed two state agencies to rescind layoff notices because the Legislature passed the budget-repair bill. …
“The Legislature helped us save 1,500 middle-class jobs by moving forward this week with the budget repair. The state will now be able to realize $30 million in savings to balance the budget and allow 1,500 state employees to keep their jobs. The reforms contained in this legislation, which require modest health care and pension contributions from all public employees, will help put Wisconsin on a path to fiscal sustainability.[“]
The fleebaggers lost an opportunity to ride to the rescue. Had they returned a few days ago and faced the inevitable, they could have claimed to do so in an attempt to rescue those workers targeted for layoffs. Now the Republicans can rightly claim to have used the opportunity to pass the bill in the manner they did to keep state workers from losing their jobs while Senate Democrats stayed on vacation in Illinois.
Ironically, Senate Democrats still can’t return, at least not quite yet:
The vote by the Assembly also means Senate Democrats will soon return to the state after relocating to Illinois for three weeks in an attempt to block action on the bill. At least one Senate Democrat said he would come back to Wisconsin Thursday while others said they were still deciding when to return.
Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said in a phone interview he was flying home to Superior with plans to drive to Madison on Friday and participate in the Capitol rally Saturday.
“There are no regrets with the decision or the stand we took,” said Jauch. “Some criticized us for weakening democracy. We strengthened democracy.”
But even with the battle won by Republicans, a wider war now remains for both sides, one expected to be fought in the courts and through recall efforts against 16 state senators.
When Jauch returns, Senate Republicans could resurface the original bill and pass it, having the three-fifths quorum necessary to open debate and vote on the measure. That bill already passed the Assembly, and Walker could enact both. That would remove any legal impediment that might exist and make the court cases moot. Even though the amended bill passed, there’s nothing to prevent the legislature from passing the same statutory changes twice. If that happens, the game is entirely over for the Democrats, except for their long-shot recall efforts.
Update: Steve Eggleston says that the old bill is dead and can’t be resurrected, but I’m not so sure the fleebaggers believe that. There is no other reason for them not to have returned to Madison by now.
The fleebaggers may end up in Illinois for a very long time. They have no face-saving play left, and their return will mean utter defeat on all fronts.