Robert Costa | Walker Holds His Ground

Robert Costa | Walker Holds His Ground

Hundreds of protesters continue to occupy the capitol, and 14 Democratic state senators remain roosted in Illinois, stalling consideration of his budget-repair bill. But Gov. Scott Walker, a first-term Republican, tells National Review Online that he will not blink. “By the end of this week, we will have a bill passed,” he pledges.

Walker is confident that he can pressure the on-the-run politicians to return and secure passage of his plan, which would drastically reduce the collective-bargaining power of public-sector unions and force state employees to put 5.8 percent of their salaries toward their pensions and pay 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums.

“We are looking at legal options to compel the senators to come back,” Walker says. “They have no endgame. They don’t know what they are doing. They got caught up in the hysteria and decided to run, but that’s not how this works. You have got to be in the arena.”

Bringing up hot-button legislation while the Democrats are gone is another arrow in Walker’s quiver. Though the Wisconsin constitution requires three-fifths of the senate to be present to pass fiscal legislation, a simple majority of 17 members constitutes a quorum for other bills in the 33-seat state senate. So the 19 GOP senators who remain in Madison can pass any number of bills while their Democratic colleagues are on the lam, and Republicans are a majority in the assembly, too. “They can hold off, but there is a whole legislative agenda that Republicans in the senate and assembly can start acting on that only requires simple majorities,” Walker warns.“If they want to do their jobs, and have a say, they better show up.”

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