The Capitol hasn't exactly been the most friendly place lately. Gov. Scott Walker has made it his mission to go after Wisconsin's ferociously greedy teachers and prison guards, the Fitzgerald brothers struck a decisive blow against Democratic senate staffers by taking away their copy machine privileges and state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, apparently feels that she can compare Wisconsin's Republicans to gang rapists. With all the vitriol flying around, it makes the latest proposal from state Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, all the more refreshing.
Cullen proposed to rewrite the state Senate's quorum rules for budgetary matters. Instead of the supermajority needed for a quorum, Cullen's proposal would require only a simple majority, effectively stripping the state Senate of its form of the filibuster. Under these new requirements, tactics like the Senate Democrats' recent odyssey to northern Illinois would be rendered moot.
In light of these recent events, we applaud Cullen for his willingness to reach across the aisle. It is hard to find some ulterior motive for Cullen's proposal, seeing as he is not eligible for recall and he won his latest election by a comfortable margin in a strong year for Republicans. It is possible there may be some underlying interest, but considering his role as a mediator during the Capitol crisis, for all we can tell he seems to genuinely believe in the legislation.
We stand with Cullen in favor of the rule change. As policy, it takes away a legislative technicality that has too much opportunity for abuse. But just as importantly, such a proposal can act as an olive branch in a starkly divided Senate chamber. Now, people like state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and the Fitzgeralds are about as likely to accept that olive branch as they are to accept public unions' concessions. But moderate Republicans may now see Cullen as a man they can work with. And in a Senate with only 33 members, a mere handful of senators from different parties working together can make a huge impact.
With this in mind, we call on the members of the state Assembly, remaining members of the Senate and people of Wisconsin to join Cullen in a showing of bipartisanship. With the state as divided as it is, this is just the occasion where we would expect Democrats in the legislature to dig their heels in the opposition.
However, this is not the time to be shortsighted. One day the Democrats will be back in the majority, and at that point this sort of proposal will look very appealing to them. This is the time to look to the future, and look toward it together.
Or we can just continue to call one another Hitler. Your choice, legislators.