Swearingen Likes State Budget; Senate Debating

Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

All Republicans except Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, told the Wisconsin State Journal he wants to see what he described as cost-saving changes to Wisconsin DOT operations added to the budget. But he said they center around a list of nine demands he and Republican Sens.

Debate on Wisconsin's delayed state budget is now underway in the Senate, with Republicans saying they have the votes needed to pass $76 billion spending plan. Wisconsin is one of only two states with a July 1 deadline that still doesn't have a budget enacted. One would make repeal of the prevailing wage for state construction projects effective immediately.

The Assembly approved the package 59-30 last month but had to take it up again because the Senate adopted changes to it on Tuesday.

The group of four or five GOP senators, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said yesterday, aren't ready to back the budget. Instead, he said Walker will use his extensive veto power to do enough to win their support.

Walker, who is in South Korea on a trade mission, has also been personally involved in trying to broker a deal, said his spokesman Tom Evenson. It would end in September 2018 under the current version of the budget.

State Sen. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon, was the lone senator to vote against the budget bill, with Nass, Kapenga and Stroebel throwing their support behind the proposal.

The Senate was scheduled to begin debate on Friday.

The Assembly passed the bill Thursday on a 64-31 vote, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker. They sought to abolish, through an amendment rejected by the GOP majority, a new provision creating a special judicial track for Foxconn-related legal appeals - sending them straight to a state Supreme Court now dominated by conservative justices.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said the fact the Republicans had difficulty getting the needed 17 votes "demonstrates the dysfunction that's happening, the inability to govern". Democrats are united against it.

"For anything that hasn't been bid out, I think you could do it as quickly as the time the budget was enacted", Walker said. "There's no other way to put it".

Democrats have countered by arguing the budget would benefit only the wealthy, noting that it would cut income taxes primarily for high earners but not for poor working families.

Walker also says he plans to veto $1 million for renovations in the state Capitol basement.

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