HuffPost- Amanda Terkel
First Posted: 02/20/11 09:33 PM Updated: 02/21/11 10:32 AM
WASHINGTON — It’s day four of exile for Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators, who crossed state lines in order to stall the expedited passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget proposal. Although many of the governor’s supporters have called on them to come back to Madison, Democrats are ready to stick it out in Rockford, Ill. until Walker agrees to negotiate.
“We’ll be here until Gov. Walker decides that he wants to talk,” said state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) in an interview with The Huffington Post on Saturday. He added that so far, the governor refuses to meet with them or even return the phone calls from members of the Democratic caucus.
“He’s just hard-lined — will not talk, will not communicate, will not return phone calls,” said Carpenter. “In a democracy, I thought we were supposed to talk. But the thing is, he’s been a dictator, and just basically said this is the only thing. No amendments, and it’s going to be that way.”
“Clearly, we offered a viable compromise at the end of last week,” said state Sen. Robet Wirch (D), who is in northern Illinois, but not in Rockford with other members. “We wanted the clergy to come in and mediate this thing. But the governor just has his feet in cement.”
Walker’s office did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.
On Friday, union leaders in Wisconsin agreed to the part of Walker’s bill that would require public employees to double their health insurance contributions and contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to their pensions. Walker has argued that concessions by public workers are necessary in order to help the state’s financial situation.