The Wisconsin Legislature has blown $17.2 million in taxpayer dollars working on the proposed 2007-09 state budget during the past three months - a job they were supposed to complete by July 1.
The figure represents salaries, fringe benefits and other costs to operate the Legislature for a quarter of the year. Its current annual budget is $68.8 million.
Both houses passed differing versions of the budget in late July and then formed a committee of legislative leaders to hammer out a compromise budget the Assembly and Senate could agree on and send to Governor Jim Doyle.
But the committee has yet to agree on a budget at the expense of dozens of other legislative proposals that have been idling. One legislative veteran says the Assembly has only been in session 14 days this year. "It's an absolute outrage that while we fiddle around nothing is getting done," Democratic Representative Marlin Schneider said in a press release.
At the same time, plenty of fundraising has been getting done. Legislative leaders on the conference committee as well as rank and file lawmakers have been holding fundraisers in bulk during the months-long budget delay to milk special interests with a stake in the two-year policy and spending proposal.