Waukesha College Students Hear From Democratic Senator
Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, who represents Oak Creek, shares his thoughts on the budget repair bill process.
State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, recalled his time with the other 13 Democratic senators who left the state to go to Illinois to prevent Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill to move forward to a group of college students in Waukesha on Thursday.
It wasn't all glamorous, Larson said, as he stayed in a house for a week, sometimes sleeping on the floor and sometimes on an inflatable mattress. And they were away from their friends and families as they tried to keep Republicans from voting on a bill all 14 senators abhorred.
"I can tell you we were not living in luxury," Larson said.
A group of about 50 students, faculty members and staff at University of Wisconsin-Waukesha gathered at the two-year college for the College Democrats event.
"I think everyone watched really attentively," said freshman, Andrew Stiles, who is the president of the group. "They were with him word for word. The subject matter was one that you can't really ignore."
The group that gathered at the college was mostly in agreement with Larson. If their views differed, they didn't speak up or ask questions during the question and answer portion of the meeting. Instead people brought concerns about education, benefits and the ramifications of the budget repair bill on private unions.
Recent times in politics have been awakening previously uninterested citizens on both sides of the political spectrum. One woman commented to Larson that she was one of those people.
"I don't really know that much about politics," said the woman, who left before Waukesha Patch could get her name. "I didn't pay attention until recently."
Larson kept the college students entertained as he told his story about the ways the Republicans reacted after the Democratic senators went to Illinois. Larson used pop culture phrases and knowledge to reach out to the younger crowd and at one point referenced The Office and Dwight Schrute.
"They took away our parking spaces. It's OK, I'm a runner," Larson said. "... They took away our copying privileges, which is almost something Dwight would do."
When the 14 senators left the state, they didn't know how long they were going to be gone. Before they left and before the bill was released, they had been hearing rumors swirling through the Capitol building that the bill would limit collective bargaining powers for the public unions.
The Democrats laughed off the rumors – at least for a little bit.
"We got the details of what was in it," Larson said. "Then we stopped laughing."
Rumors frequently swirl the Capitol, Larson explained to the group of college students.
"It is more like middle school than the prestigious body you think it is," Larson said.