Two summers ago, in a desperate and embarrassing election year ploy, then-Gov. Scott Walker declared the Milwaukee Zoo Interchange highway project finished “on time and on budget,” even though the project was not actually finished and wasn’t even expected to be finished until 2023.
Similarly, after completing just 56 percent of the two-year session for which we were elected, Assembly Republicans decided they had enough. They decided to stop working on state business for the rest of the year Feb. 21 – and that’s not even considering the vacation they took from August to October 2019.
I don’t think they are necessarily opposed to continuing session; after all, this early release comes after the 2018 lame-duck session, where they brushed off claims of an undemocratic process by saying they were elected to fill two year terms, and they had every right to convene after the election to strip the incoming governor and attorney general of some of the powers – simply because the incoming governor and AG would no longer be Republicans.
While Republicans have locked themselves into a majority with gerrymandered maps, they do not have enough seats for a veto-proof majority. To obtain that, they need to gain three more seats in the Assembly and three more in the Senate. That is why they are ending our two-year session with 10 months left.
There is another option they could choose to exercise – they could negotiate with Democrats on the other side of the aisle and come up with some compromise to pass meaningful legislation that would positively impact our constituents. However, Wisconsin Republicans don’t compromise. The only approach they know is the “my-way-or-the-highway.” This does, however, reveal their true priorities: campaigning.
Instead of bipartisanship, Republicans would rather take 10 months off so they can work toward a supermajority so they can continue to jam an unpopular agenda through the Legislature. It’s a cynical ploy and clearly shows that all they really care about is the accumulation of power so they can get back to being able to pass legislation that satisfies their deep-pocketed donors, which they had been able to do for eight years under Walker until he was defeated by Tony Evers in 2018.
Wisconsin is the quintessential “purple state.” The people of this state don’t want one party railroaded by the other. They want us to work together, because the goal shouldn’t be the pursuit of power. It should be working for the people. If that means we must have a little give and take, then so be it. It’s well past time that we learn to compromise, and I think that’s a lesson Republicans would be well served to take to heart.
Gary Hebl represents the 46th Assembly District.