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Senate continues to block cutting free health care for lawmakers

Wisconsin lawmakers will consider spending cuts, tax hikes and accounting tricks to close the new $650 million budget deficit.

One thing they apparently won't consider is cutting a rare benefit for themselves - free health insurance when they retire in the amount of the sick leave they don't use.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2006 that the perk could cost taxpayers up to $3.2 million. That's because lawmakers at the time hardly used any sick leave.

Since then, the Assembly voted to end the benefit for future legislators, judges and district attorneys. The Senate never did get around to acting on it.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, says the measure could get a vote before the current session ends on Thursday. However, he said there are some lawmakers against cutting off the benefit for judges and district attorneys.