Fitzgerald explains the one week wait reversal (AUDIO)

State Senate Democrats hammered Republicans today for a flip-flop on the issue of a one week waiting period to collect unemployment benefits. The Senate voted on a 19-14 party line split to concur with the Assembly version of a bill which extends UI benefits for 13 weeks while dropping the amendment the Senate passed a week and a-half ago to eliminate the one week wait.

But Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters that he allowed the amendment to come to the floor last month with the thinking that the Assembly and Governor Scott Walker would go along.

“We could have, at that point broke, went to caucus, had a debate for three hours about the seven day waiting period, but I don’t think it was worth it. Maybe if we would have made a quicker decision on the floor to just reject that, it would have aligned better with the Assembly and the governor. But that’s just not the way it happened on the floor.”

Some Democrats also suggested that today’s vote signaled the Senate rolling over for the Assembly and governor. Fitzgerald was asked if he feels penned in by the Assembly.

“I accept some of the responsibility for making that decision on the floor and not really consulting with them. I take the blame for that. I think it was something that we thought we just needed to move forward with that day, hoping that there might be some give and take later. It just didn’t play out that way.”

Fitzgerald said it was necessary to come to the floor today because the Assembly would not return until September and the governor’s office would not support the elimination of the one week waiting period which is projected to save the state’s unemployment compensation fund some $51 million. He said the important thing was to approve the benefits extension.

AUDIO: Scott Fitgerald Q&A (7:45)

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