Wisconsin Senate Dems Might Call Special Session on Jobs


The new Democratic co-chair of the legislature’s powerful budget committee says she won’t “sit on her hands” this year, even though the legislature’s not in session.

Now that Democrats are back in the majority in the Senate, they’ve talked about wanting to pass jobs bills ranging from a grant program for worker training to a new bonding program for road and bridge repair. Bills like that would need the full legislature’s ok, but even before that, they’d likely need approval by the powerful Joint Finance Committee. New Senate Democratic Co-Chair Lena Taylor of Milwaukee says they’re the kind of ideas that can’t wait until after the November election. “I respect under normal conditions we may not otherwise need to be back. But these are not normal conditions.”

Senate Democrats can’t force the legislature back into session by themselves, since there’s still a strong Republican majority in the Assembly. But even when the legislature’s out, the Finance Committee still holds special meetings periodically to vote on funding for state agencies. Taylor says she’ll use those meetings “to be able to speak about the issues that matter and to try to compel individuals—both Democrats and Republicans alike—to be able to come together and do something now for those issues that are at a crisis state.”

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Among the topics Taylor is watching is BadgerCare, the state’s health care program for the poor and disabled, which currently has a lengthy waiting list for adults without kids. Taylor says she also wants to see whether a train maintenance facility in Milwaukee can be revived to service trains that travel from Milwaukee to Chicago. She also wants to dig into the state’s transportation budget, especially for local road and transit projects.