State Rep. Shilling calls on Wisconsin Gov. Walker to negotiate

The La Crosse (Wisconsin) TribuneFebruary 21, 2011 

Wisconsin state Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, called for Republican Gov. Scott Walker to sit down and negotiate "reasonable solutions" to the controversy over the state budget repair bill.

On Sunday, Shilling and fellow Democrat Rep. Chris Danou of Trempealeau spoke to dozens of union workers and supporters who filled the International Association of Machinists' office in La Crosse.

"We're OK with concessions and understand the pension, and we give you that," Shilling said in sending a message to Walker. "But give us our bargaining rights."

As union supporters moved inside for a sixth straight day of protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, Walker reiterated Sunday that he wouldn't compromise on the issue that had mobilized them, a bill that would eliminate most of public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Democratic lawmakers have said they and union members would agree to financial concessions that the Republican governor wants in exchange for workers keeping their collective bargaining rights.

Many in the crowd in La Crosse said they had protested in Madison and plan to return this week.

"I can tell you the movement continues to grow," Shilling said. "What we have heard is the drumbeat of democracy."

Shilling said she heard 17 hours of testimony on the budget repair bill before the Joint Finance Committee last week.

"I told colleagues that never so few, ignored so many and learned so little," she said of the Republicans and the governor.

Shilling said the Assembly Democrats will have a caucus today and will present many floor amendments to the budget repair bill Tuesday.

She said the budget bill also has sweeping changes to Medicaid which could jeopardize access to health care for 62,000 state residents.

Danou said the fight with the governor is not about wages and benefits, but about workers' rights.

The governor has failed at leadership in the pursuit of an ideology, "but he was elected to govern, not do ideology," Danou said.

Shilling said she has called State Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, who has not returned her calls. Kapanke and Walker could not be reached for comment.

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