Wisconsin governor to AWOL Dems: ‘Show up, debate the bill, offer amendments, have a healthy debate’

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As reports swirled about AWOL Democrats hiding out at a Best Western in Rockford, Ill. to avoid a budget vote, Republican Gov. Scott Walker insisted that “theatrics” would not keep him from balancing the budget, chiding Democrats for abdicating a “fundamental responsibility” to constituents.

“Show up, debate the bill, offer amendments, have a healthy debate, but you don’t have that debate if you’re hanging out down in Rockford.”

Walker said he was unwilling to add to budget deficit to appease Democrats or resort to what he called “unacceptable” alternatives — more state and local layoffs.

Pressed on whether he was moving the budget-repair bill too fast, Walker responded that he’d been talking about his plans through the election, transition, and into his new administration.

“We talked about it, I was elected to get this state working again,” Walker said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing. No more no less. It’s about balancing the budget.”

He expressed confidence that Democrats would abandon their “stunt” within a couple days, but mentioned the state government is looking into all legal options. He expressed hope that constituents would inform those senators they expect them to do their jobs.

“The most fundamental responsibility… more than anything else we’re responsible for voting on behalf of our constituents. You can’t do that if you’re hiding out in some other state.”

Walker said removing the provisions that cut collective bargaining powers for public-employee unions would delay the balancing of the budget.

“On average for the past decade… negotiat[ing] settlement on a contract has taken 15 months,” he said. “We don’t have 15 months to balance the budget. We gotta balance it now.”