Republicans And Democrats See Walk-Out Through Different Lens

By Jeff Neumeyer

March 30, 2011 Updated Mar 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Do Indiana House Democrats and their constituents have anything of substance to show for a five-week walk-out that essentially brought business in the General Assembly to a screeching halt?

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are doing “spin” to try and shape opinion in their favor.

Democrats would tell you misguided pieces of legislation were tweaked or tossed out altogether because of the self-imposed exile to Illinois.

Republicans, on the other hand, uniformly suggest it accomplished nothing, other than to turn the remainder of this year's session into a scheduling nightmare.

The 39 democrats who left the state February 22nd, objecting to 11 bills in total that they labeled anti-labor or anti-education, returned to do business late Monday afternoon.

Fort Wayne Democrat Phil GiaQuinta says the walk-out secured defeat of "Right to Work" legislation, detested by unions.

He also says it brought concessions on a School Choice bill and changes to another bill to protect union wages on a host of larger construction projects.

He insists the disruption will not keep the session from ending on time.

State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta/(D) 80th District: " All at no cost to taxpayers, but I do think bills have been made better. I thought they were too far, too extreme, frankly, and I think they've been moderated, and so it's really going to be a win-win for the state."

State Sen. Travis Holdman/(R) 19th District: " Honestly, I believe somebody on a national level said it's time for you guys to go back to work. We'll try this in another state next, but in Indiana the last four weeks was a waste of time."

Republicans like Senator Holdman say the Democrats have it all wrong.

The GOP claims Right to Work legislation, the main reason the Democrats walked out initially, was killed by Day Two of the walk-out, then the Democrats started complaining about ten other bills, that led to another 33 days of legislative limbo.

Republicans also argue amendments to the voucher program were their idea, not the Democrats.

The Democrats in total were fined more than $3,100, according to the Indianapolis Star, but it's not clear if the lawmakers or the Indiana Democratic Party will pick up the tab.

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