State Budget Fights - March 2 Edition

Backers of a bill to limit union rights protest outside the Ohio Statehouse, Wednesday, March 2, 2011. i i

hide captionBackers of a bill to limit union rights protest outside the Ohio Statehouse, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Jay LaPrete/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Backers of a bill to limit union rights protest outside the Ohio Statehouse, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Backers of a bill to limit union rights protest outside the Ohio Statehouse, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Jay LaPrete/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Day 16 of the Wisconsin rebellion and there are signs that Badger State Republicans and Democrats are trying to find a way out of their standoff.

Two of the 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state to stop legislative action on a bill to limit the power of public-employee unions, actually quietly crossed back into Wisconsin earlier in the week to meet with a Republican counterpart to discuss possible ways forward, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The newspaper reports that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Monday drove to Kenosha, WI, just over the Illinois border, to meet with two Democrats.

An excerpt:

Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville, one of the two Democrats at the meeting, said Fitzgerald made clear in the talks that Republicans would not alter their budget repair proposal, which has already passed the state Assembly. But Cullen said the two sides talked about adjusting the larger 2011-'13 budget bill to address problems that Democrats and unions have with the budget repair bill.

"Some of the provisions in the budget repair bill don't go into effect for months, so you could change them in the budget bill," Cullen said.

That Republicans didn't spring a trap and have state police drag the Democrats back to the statehouse suggests an effort to keep from inflaming matters further.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Scott Walker reiterated his warning that hundreds of state workers could be laid off if the Democrats don't return soon.

Also, the Wisconsin statehouse was quieter Wednesday, a result of state officials continuing to limit access to the building to tamp down the noisy protests.

And protesters Wednesday awaited a ruling from a county court judge that they hoped would allow them to congregate inside the building again in large numbers.

In Ohio, the Republican-controlled state senate could vote on a bill Wednesday, according to the Columbus Dispatch, that's also perceived as cracking down on public-employee unions. The Ohio legislation would limit collective bargaining rights in that state as well.

As the bill was debated inside the Ohio statehouse, Tea Party protesters demonstrated outside in favor if the legislation which would, among other things, end binding arbitration for police and firefighters.

In a neighboring state, the leader of Democrats in Indiana's House, returned to the state from Illinois where he and fellow Indiana Democrats have been holed up just like the Wisconsin lawmakers who inspired them.

Minority Leader Pat Bauer met with House Speaker Brian Bosma as reporters and news cameras watched the scene. But the Indianapolis Star reports that there was no breakthrough.

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