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Democrats insist drafting budget amendments not a wasted effort

Democrats insist drafting budget amendments not a wasted effort

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Democrats who spent weeks crafting more than 200 budget amendments said Wednesday that even though they decided not to offer any of them, the effort was not wasted since the measures will be introduced separately later.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the “no amendment” decision was made after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, made it clear that none of the Democrats’ proposed changes would fly. (Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, offered a series of amendments on his own, but all were shot down.)

“When the speaker came to our closed caucus (Tuesday), he made a very strong statement there would be no amendments accepted,” Barca said. “That sealed the deal for us.”

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, said Democrats also felt there were simply too many changes to make.

“After a time it became apparent that what we were trying to do was put lipstick on a pig, and none of us wanted to do that,” he said.

But Democrats insisted the effort to research and write proposed changes to the two-year budget bill, carried out by staff from the Assembly and the Legislative Reference Bureau, was not in vain.

“We’re hardly giving up,” said Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay. “The fight is not over. We have several amendments we’ll propose as standalone bills. We have a big pile of ideas we’re going to turn into bills.”

Said Barca: “The vast majority of it, in one format or another, will be used again.”

— Matthew DeFour and Dee J. Hall


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