State lawmakers consider compromise in residency debate

MADISON (WITI) -- The Joint Finance Committee in Madison is set to take action on a hot button issue -- residency rules. It now appears the residency requirement could become the residency radius.

Republican State Sen. Glenn Grothmann has broken ranks with his party and Gov. Scott Walker, coming out in favor of residency rules.

"Even if I or other Republicans don't represent the city, they do realize it would be irresponsible to damage that city too much today," said Grothmann.

Other Republicans seem uneasy about the plan to get rid of rules that require city employees to live where they work.

"There are a lot of discussions.  It'll be interesting how it all plays out," said State Rep. Dale Kooyenga.

One potential compromise emerged that would require city employees to live within a certain distance of city limits.

The behind-the-scenes discussions were criticized by Democrats who say the issue has no place in the budget.

"I just think those are completely arbitrary ways to deal with the issue, it's the wrong way to be doing it on the back of a napkin in the budget committee," said State Rep. Jon Richards.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the issue should be bargained by the city and employees, not dictated by the state.

"That's the irony of all this," said Barrett. "We're at the bargaining table right now talking  about that and we've got the state legislature and the governor who are literally on the brink of pulling the rug out from under us. There is no business person in this state who would give this away for nothing."

"Since Grothmann is against it, the Dems are against it, who knows? This might work into a compromise," said State Sen. Bob Wirch.