MEQUON — The mining bill is buried, and the blame game has begun. A fiery Governor Scott Walker had harsh words for the state senators who rejected the plan for a mine in northern Wisconsin that would have brought jobs to an economically-depressed area of the state.
Walker did not mince words over mining Thursday. “It’s not only frustrating, it’s downright disgusting. You had senators who were willing to put politics ahead of jobs,” Walker said.
Walker says Democrats were motivated to embarrass him and deny him a victory before his recall election – a move he says cost the state up to 2,300 mining jobs. “The only real losers on this are the thousands of people in the state who are underemployed or unemployed. There were too many people listening to political special interest groups out of Washington, who didn’t want me and my team to have a victory here,” Walker said.
Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski says Walker is exploiting the mining bill for political reasons. “Walker is to blame for this failure. He had a year and some change to focus on this, and now, at the last minute, because he’s getting recalled, he wants to blame other people for his failures. There were members of his own party that voted against it, so was that person taking orders from special interests in Washington?” Zielinski said.
Moderate Republican Senator Dale Schultz had proposed compromise legislation, but it would have allowed for the public to contest permits before they’re issued. “Dale Schultz and Bob Jauch put a proposal on the table that the company couldn’t accept,” Walker said.
Democrats say if Republicans budged, they’d have a bill. “We had a bill that could pass the Senate, and Senator Fitzgerald knew that. That’s why he denied the vote,” Milwaukee Democratic Senator Lena Taylor said.
“The Democrats are going to run around and say they’re willing to compromise on a new bill – well, talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words,” Walker said.
Taylor says the environment is as important as the economy. “We believe in jobs, but we also believe in the environment,” Taylor said.
“If politics is going to play a higher priority than getting people back to work, it’s a sad day,” Walker said.
Walker said calling a special session on mining wouldn’t make any sense unless 17 senators are on board.