Debate on the Wisconsin state budget got off to an awkward start Tuesday as Democratic Rep. Brett Hulsey of Madison reportedly discussed leaving his caucus to become an independent.
While legislators waited around for Republican leaders to hammer out their final changes to the budget, rumors swirled that Hulsey might part ways with Assembly Democrats. Hulsey's aggressive, attention-getting, sometimes quirky tactics have often rankled his fellow Democrats. Likewise, he's criticized them for not being aggressive enough in attacking Governor Walker.
Whatever set it off, the Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that Hulsey had spoken with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Democratic Leader Peter Barca about leaving Democrats to become an independent. Hulsey had no comment on his plans, but did not gather with Democrats Tuesday evening when they met in caucus to discuss the budget amongst themselves.
He did speak briefly on the Assembly floor, offering his own amendment to the budget to restore school funding and rescind GOP tax cuts. Lawmakers from both parties rejected it.