Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Republicans Killing Any Hope of Jobs In Wisconsin

Yesterday, instead of moving the bipartisan Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act to the full Senate for likely passage, the Republicans in the Joint Finance Committee sent a bill to the full Senate that no one but far-right Republicans support and will take muscling to pass. The Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act provides everything that Gogebic Taconite asked for to create their promised hundreds of union jobs. While the Republican leadership-supported AB 426 goes much further than Gogebic Taconite requested to push far-right ideological goals at the risk of the promised jobs when Wisconsin could use all the help it can get. The Republicans are killing any hope of jobs in Wisconsin by refusing to give way to their extreme ideology.

The Republicans have offered no reasoning or compromise on their far-right goals. The only reason they give for Republican Senator Dale Schultz and the Democrats to take their fake compromise is that it includes a number of modified items from the WWMR Act. Republican Rep. Robin Vos said they have included "60%" of the WWMR Act in the fake compromise, and therefore it should be a sufficient compromise. However, not only are most of the items modified, but the Republican leadership has intentionally left out the most critical items from their fake compromise. In particular environmental protections, real contested case hearings, and keeping the money in the local communities that they deserve.

Getting Gogebic Taconite to open a mine is the only serious jobs plan the Republicans have, even though we've bled over 35,000 jobs since Walker signed his budget last year. The Republicans are risking these jobs by not compromising with Schultz and the Democrats. All it would have taken was to move the bill onto the full Senate. With Schultz, the Democrats have a majority, and it would have likely passed. Much more likely than AB 426. However, that's exactly what the Republican leadership fears.

They can't fail. With the scent of failure all over the Republicans, they need to pass a jobs (um, mining) bill, and it needs to be theirs. Otherwise, the leadership has clearly failed. Why else would they abruptly disband the mining Senate committee that Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald commissioned himself? If it weren't to pass AB 426 as Fitzgerald said it was, what would have been the point? The Republicans must pass AB 426 to keep the egg off their faces, but by refusing to remove their ideological provisions, they have little chance of passing it.

Why is the Republican leadership pushing so hard for totally unnecessary far-right ideological goals when we need jobs? Why didn't the leadership allow the full Senate to vote on a bipartisan bill that gives Gogebic what they want and would probably pass? Instead, they moved a bill that will take muscling to pass. The Republicans shouldn't be risking jobs at this time for their ideological goals unsupported by a large majority of Wisconsin.

Why do the media in Wisconsin consider the far-right AB 426 "the mining bill" as if it were the only option? It definitely doesn't help Wisconsinites understand the real debate that's happening between Wisconsin values and far-right ideology. It's not one bill or no bill. There's already a compromise between Republicans and Democrats and it's the WWMR Act, the Republican leadership just refuses to accept it.

Senator Dale Schultz's passionate statement on why he crafted the WWMR Act with Jauch and how it compromises with the Republican leadership is a compelling read. I strongly encourage your indulgence.

Read A Plea for the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act for more information on why we need the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act, the failure of the Republican leadership to draft legislation in the open, and the pressure they've put on Schultz to cave. 

Give Schultz and the Democrats some love and tell the other Republicans to not risk greatly needed jobs for ideological goals and instead support the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act.

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