The Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature decided, after Democrat colleagues remained absent for the third week, that the time had come to take action. The action taken was to divide the budget bill into two parts and thereby make it legal for the Republicans to vote on the bill that did not involve an expenditure of state funds. This they did, hoping that the vote would force the absentee Democrat legislative members to return to their jobs and deal with the budget.
The one Democrat who had remained on the job, Peter Barca, shouted that the surprise meeting was a violation of the state’s open meeting’s law, but he was unable to persuade Republicans, who went forward with the vote.
The budget bill of Gov. Walker was introduced to help plug a $137 million budget shortfall projected by the end of June. He has said that without the collective bargaining bill, he may have to lay off 1,500 state workers and make other cuts to balance the budget. Union members have been protesting for the past three weeks while democrat members of the legislative branch left their jobs rather than deal with the reality of what needed to be done.
The action by Republicans has caused rage and fury among Democrats and Union members. Republicans are receiving hate mail, some of which include death threats.