At 9 a.m. on Friday, October 26, Governor Jim Doyle will sign the new biennial budget for the State of Wisconsin, bringing to an end political gridlock that lasted 115 days until the Republican Assembly and Democratic Senate reached a compromise on Tuesday evening.
Only four days shy of matching the ignominious budget procrastination record set in 1971, this battle aroused tremendous acrimony over the summer and early autumn, culminating most visibly in a dueling pair of rallies over the budget barely a week before a deal was finally struck.
The story of these final days is told in Stalemate, a short documentary described as "a film with no budget about a state with no budget," created by Bryan Larrivee of The Cow Goes Productions. Running just short of four minutes, it features interviews with Governor Doyle's office as well as staffers for Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) and the now-supplanted Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson (D-Beloit), as well as Rep. Tom Nelson (D-Kaukana), who drew attention with his sit-in at the Assembly chambers during the final days of the impasse.
Larrivee created the documentary as part of his application to work as a correspondent for the MTV News Choose or Loose '08 campaign. Shooting it over the course of the final tumultuous week of the stalemate, up through the tentative agreement announced last Friday, he submitted it on Sunday.
"Unfortunately (strictly from a filmic standpoint) the tentative agreement forced me to make a rather difficult decision of how to handle the central drama of the film since it was theoretically resolved," Larrivee says, noting that the busy legislators' staffs were very helpful when it came to speaking for the documentary. "Because I was on a deadline less than 72 hours away I decided I could only mention the agreement in the kicker. Plus it was a weekend and no one was around in the Capitol for a post-agreement interview."
This documentary about the recent budget stalemate follows.
"I've very happy to see the budget finally go through," concludes Larrivee. "It isn't perfect in my eyes (or anyone's view, I doubt), but compromise is the only way anything can go forth in our system. Unfortunately it seems to have taken quite a while for legislators to realize there must be give and take on both sides. It is unfortunate that many people were affected by the lack of a budget, especially students, but we as citizens can hope legislators take note and pass the budget on time in the future."