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For Immediate Release: March 15, 2011
Contact: Rebekah Sweeney, (608) 266-3790
Jorgensen’s Journal: Reagan’s Warning Rings True

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”

You might think that sounds like a quote from the Senate Democratic Minority Leader or a union representative – but, it’s not.  The man who said those words is a leader Governor Scott Walker and many Republicans point to as a guidepost of their party values – President Ronald Reagan.
How far Governor Walker and the Republican Party have drifted from what once was a shared American value.   How sad that this issue has now divided family members and created such an extreme political environment here in Wisconsin.

Frankly, I continue to be shocked and saddened by the lengths my colleagues across the aisle – people I so recently considered good friends - will go to, to squash state workers’ rights.
This past week, as you may now know, Republicans lead by our own Senator Scott Fitzgerald stripped all fiscal items from Governor Walker’s budget adjustment proposal – leaving just the items relating to the elimination of collective bargaining rights, increased contributions for health care and retirement and the transfer of some civil service positions to political appointments.  They did this about-face on the measure Governor Walker had argued time and again was a fiscal item so they’d procedurally be able to take a vote on the bill without Senate Democrats present.  Not surprisingly, they succeeded in that plan - - and then approved the bill in the Assembly, too.  Along the way, they may have broken open meetings laws and did stifle debate on the final version of the legislation.  Earlier this week, Senator Fitzgerald announced he would continue to hold Senate Democrats in contempt and would not “allow” them to vote on behalf of their constituents in committees until the Senate next meets in April - - now, it appears he may have had a change of heart.

With these moves, President Reagan’s warning that “freedom is lost” has never been truer.  It’s been a very disappointing time for me as your state representative, and based on the listening sessions I’ve held in the district this past week, I know it’s been infuriating for many of you, as well.

But, this week, I want – and maybe need - to focus on the positive, not the negative.

I want to share with you the fact that we are not alone.  On Saturday, 100,000 of state workers’ closest friends came to Madison in an incredible show of support.  The emails and phone calls from constituents troubled by Governor Walker’s budget adjustment and budget plans continue to flood my office.  And, we have allies across the aisle, too.

Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center – the former Senate Majority Leader and lone Senate Republican voting against the budget adjustment bill last week - called Walker’s collective bargaining proposal a “classic overreach,” warning his colleagues after the vote, “The people who have come to the Capitol here are very passionate, and I think it's not likely the 100,000 people who were here a few days ago are suddenly going to forget this issue."

Representative Dean Kaufert of Neenah – the former Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair, someone I’ve worked closely and successfully with in years past, and one of four Assembly Republicans voting against Walker’s bill - had this to say: “I know what the governor’s trying to do is one of those things that need to be done. You can do it in a way that you don’t have to poke people in the eye.”

Maybe, like me, Sen. Schultz and Rep. Kaufert appreciate a less-partisan, common-sense approach to legislating.  Maybe they were listening to the outcry for help from their constituents.  Maybe they remember the words of President Reagan.

I hope more lawmakers soon do.