It all starts with the humble kringle.
At the beginning of a document destined to be the subject of impassioned debate — the nearly 1,400-page state budget bill — comes a proposal to make the kringle the official state pastry. Maybe it’s best that lawmakers — before plunging into the controversy over the budget proposals to expand Wisconsin’s voucher program statewide, allow bail bondsmen to start operating again in certain counties, and reduce income taxes, among others things — go about giving the flaky treat its proper due. The kringle is probably most often thought of as a dessert, but here it’s an appetizer, helping to make the bitter stuff to come easier to swallow.
Despite the universal support the pastry is likely to receive, its inclusion in the budget could put certain lawmakers in a difficult position. Democrats, in particular, have complained regularly and loudly this session about the number of policy items – or legislative changes expected to have no effect on the state’s finances – that are in the budget bill. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s count, there are 98 of them this year.
At a state Assembly hearing last week, the Democrats offered a resolution that would have stripped all of the policy items from the budget. If the resolution had been approved, the kringle would have been out with everything else not pertaining to finances. But, to no one’s surprise, it failed.
Before the vote, the Democrats had threatened that they would use the Assembly’s debate this week on the budget bill as an opportunity to introduce a series of motions calling for the removal of each of the policy items, one by one. That pledge would seem to apply to the kringle proposal, a change that might prove difficult for some to stomach.
After all, it was a Democrat, state Rep. Cory Mason, R-Racine, who called for the enshrinement of the kringle in the budget. According to this website, his district is where the pastry was first introduced to these fair shores, sometime in the late 1800s.
So what is going to happen on Tuesday? Will the Democrats agree to give up on the kringle in return for getting the rest of the policy items out of the budget? Or will they have to be content with having the kringle be one of the few sops in a budget loaded with items they don’t like?
Given Republicans’ resistance to changing the budget, the odds seem to favor the second possibility. For the Democrats, that’ll just be the way the kringle crumbles.