Shortly after the 2018 November election, Republican Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in a joint statement said, “The legislature is the most representative branch of government.” This was after a 54 percent Democratic majority vote managed to elect only 36 percent of the representatives in the Assembly. Armed with their belief, they began a campaign to attack the policies of the newly elected Democratic governor. One could make the point − well, that’s just politics − but what they are doing now is altogether different. Here are several examples:
Seventy percent of Wisconsinites approve of expanding Medicaid, 56 percent support increasing the minimum wage, 59 percent support legalizing marijuana, 74 percent support increases in special education funding. In the face of this significant public support, our “representatives” in the legislature have removed all these items from the governor’s budget.
The latest declaration from Speaker Vos is that regardless of the will of the people, he intends to follow his own principles − not very representative. Elections are supposed to mean something; the will of the people is supposed to mean something. I attended a presentation of one of our former state senators some time ago who had the courage to tell a very partisan crowd that she had voted against one of their dearly held policy positions because the constituents in her district expressed an overwhelming opposition to it. Despite her personal preference, she voted in accordance with her constituents. Bravo, that was her job.
It is almost certain that the approval of an eventual budget will be a long and contentious affair. The governor and the legislature will have to reach an eventual compromise. A significant component of that compromise needs to be the will of the people − but will it?