Here we go again.
After spending a lot of time behind closed doors to negotiate a compromise between the Assembly and the Senate, legislative "leaders" convened a conference committee that lasted a grand total of about 3 hours - including a 2.5 hour "read through" of the budget by Speaker Sheridan. Yes, it's exactly as it sounds, Speaker Sheridan read through the budget because apparently not everyone on the conference committee is capable of reading for themselves.
When the Senate finally convened and passed the budget, the conference report had been approved for only 3 hours, yet the vote took place at 12:30 AM. What would have been the problem with waiting until today and passing it after members at least get an opportunity to read the Fiscal Bureau's analysis?
I realize that it may be a little naive and idealistic to believe that Senators and Representatives actually read bills, but this is absolutely ridiculous. It is an insult to democracy which is supposed to be an open and honest process. It isn't just the legislators who need time to read the bills, but concerned citizens who may want to call their representatives and voice their concerns before the bill is rammed through without any debate at all.
This is a budget that has been written, negotiated and passed in the dead of night and behind closed doors. Democratic leaders have cried and bemoaned the "drastic" cuts to services and the "gut-wrenching" choices needed to be made to balance the budget in these "difficult" economic times. Really? Then why do we increase spending by 6.6%? Why do we continue to borrow money like a drug addict who just can't kick the habit?
The truth is that we have 132 full-time legislators and most of them are not doing their jobs. They aren't interested in serious reform that will encourage job growth or improve health care or education. Instead they blame others for their deficits and job losses. It's disgraceful and an insult to every voter in Wisconsin.
The legislature and the governor's office are controlled completely by Democrats. There is no reason whatsoever that this shouldn't have been a completely open and transparent budget process. There wasn't the partisan fighting of the last budget and their should be no rush to meet a deadline that would require middle of the night votes.
What have they been doing these past few months? Whatever it was, it wasn't their jobs.