MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - State Senate President Mike Ellis said Tuesday his house has enough votes to approve the governor’s cutbacks for union employee benefits and bargaining.
Ellis, a Republican from Neenah, told one media outlet he wished there was an alternative which doesn’t go as far. But he said it was Walker who “set this menu,” and most senators support the governor’s plan as is.
Assembly Republicans say they’re confident they have the 50 votes to endorse the measure. But 8 Assembly Republicans can jump ship and it would still pass – while in the Senate, only 3 GOP opponents would have been needed to derail the measure, assuming all the minority Democrats vote no.
Ellis said he would go along with the package – which forces public union workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions. It also limits bargaining to pay raises at or below inflation.
Local police and fire officers are exempt from the bill. Walker says the only other option is to lay off 1,500 state employees now, and 6,000 in the next budget period that starts in July.
Ellis said the state is broke and, “We don’t want to lay off almost 20,000 people.” Union employees and their supporters are trying to get GOP lawmakers to change their minds at a public hearing at the Capitol Tuesday.
There have been protest rallies in small schools and large public settings – and a major rally was set for the noon hour Tuesday in Madison.
Unions and other critics say the bill ends 50 years of labor peace in Wisconsin government – and it’s an assault on middle class employ