OTR Interviews

State Senate Majority Leader: AWOL Democrats Trashing Institution of Wisconsin's Senate

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is jumping into his own fight, using such terms as "disgraceful," "embarrassing." Now, what is the Indiana governor talking about? Well, the Indiana governor is here, and he's going to tell you himself just minutes from now.

But first, back to Wisconsin, where Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. So where are those Democratic senators? I take it they have not crossed the border back into Wisconsin yet, as far as you know.

FITZGERALD: No. I had a short conversation with the minority leader, Mark Miller, today, and he basically told me they're not coming back any time soon. But I am hopeful that with the passage of the bill in the assembly sometime this evening, that that'll create some momentum and they'll see that they need to come back and do their job.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I have a copy of a letter that you sent to Senator Miller. I might add that the address is Senator Mark Miller at "undisclosed location, comma, Illinois."


VAN SUSTEREN: And you make a reference...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... in here. You say he's throwing a tantrum. So it sounds like there's some sharp barbs going back and forth.

FITZGERALD: Yes, you know, I think we're at the point now where I'm really becoming concerned because the institution of the Wisconsin state senate is being trashed. This is not part of our senate rule book that you deny quorum. And as that continues, I think it's going to make it much more difficult for us to patch this together and pull the institution back together with what these 14 state senators have done to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, tomorrow, as I understand it, is a drop-dead date in terms of refinancing the bonds of Wisconsin. If those state senators don't show up, there's not going to be a vote. You don't have a quorum. So what happens then?

FITZGERALD: Governor Walker is going to have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different strategy on that. That's a concern because as he reported and as he certainly laid out today, that there are going to be some lay-offs as a result of that. And quite honestly, I think some of the Democrats don't understand that or they're in denial on that. But the fact of the matter is, we still have to move forward with a budget, and the governor is going to announce that on Tuesday.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned layoffs. The Wisconsin State Journal has published an article staying that the Hustisford school board sent a layoff notice to your wife, who's a counselor in the district. So she's a target?


VAN SUSTEREN: Has she actually gotten that notice?

FITZGERALD: Well, I hope not. I mean, I -- yes, well, sure, that's happening across the state. I hope my wife, Lisa, is not a target. But beyond that, you know, that is happening in many districts throughout the state as a kind of a precautionary measure, I think you could say at this point -- ultimately, I think. But on Tuesday, we're going to see exactly what the governor's plan is. But it doesn't take the pressure off of this budget repair bill that needs to be completed. And the only way that's going to happen is if one of these Democrat senators decides to come back and do their job.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems to me they might be galvanized tonight because it was also reported that the University of Wisconsin lacrosse teachers, professors, have voted to unionize, 249 to 37, to show support. So it seems like there's a lot of union momentum that's keeping them out of the state at this point.

FITZGERALD: Yes, I'm not sure. I mean, it's more about whether or not they really want to adhere to the idea that the Wisconsin state senate is an institution that should function. What they're trying to do is shut down government, obviously. And I -- you know, I have a lot of respect for what the Republicans and the Democrats in the assembly are doing now. They're up to 50-plus hours of debate. They've offered over 100 amendments to that bill. That's the way it's supposed to work. That's the way it's supposed to be, not with this cowardly act that's been committed by these 14 Democrat senators.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir. And of course, we'll be watching. Thank you, sir.

FITZGERALD: Thanks, Greta.