Budget Battle: Fitzgerald Wants 'Flexibility'

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MADISON - The controversial budget bill pushed for by Governor Scott Walker is now in the hands of the full state senate. 

"When the votes are there, they're there," said State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" about the impending passing of the bill which would limit many public union's abilities to negotiate major parts of their benefit packages.

He explained that he hears the message from protesting union members loud and clear.

"It's always difficult to sit there and say, 'Listen.  Let me describe why we have to do this.'  Sometimes they're listening.  Sometimes they don't want to hear it."

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Click here for school district closings

Related audio: Click on the links below to hear Newsradio 620 WTMJ "Wisconsin Afternoon News" exclusive interviews about the budget/union bill
Governor Scott Walker
Madison Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach
Madison Teachers Union Executive Director John Matthews

He says the union concessions in this spending plan allow for more flexibility, and Fitzgerald tells us state and local governments will need as much flexibility as they can to deal with this budget and the two-year spending cycle to come.

"If they're locked into a contract that includes a long list of items which some people will argue are not fiscal items, but when you look at them as a whole, each one of them has some impact on  he school which can be related to the budget.  If you eliminate those items, it will give those managers at those levels the ability to manage their budgets," said Fitzgerald.

He claims that in time, most people will understand why Walker's administration and the Republican-controlled state legislature is pushing this through, despite very fervent opposition.

"There'll certainly be a transition period, but once you move beyond that, I think we'll be in pretty good shape and I think that the taxpayers will understand why this move had to be made.  I don't know if the union members are going to get there anytime soon, but taxpayers certainly will understand it."