The Latest: Wisconsin Assembly passes state budget

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin budget debate (all times local):

11 p.m.

Assembly Republicans have passed the state budget more than two months after the document was supposed to be finished but it's still unclear when it will land on Gov. Scott Walker's desk.

The Assembly passed the budget 57-39 Wednesday evening after 11 hours of debate. The budget was supposed to be done by July 1 but GOP infighting over road funding has delayed the process.

The vote sends the $76 billion budget to the state Senate. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he doesn't have enough votes to get the budget out of his chamber and ship it to Walker. A group of Senate Republicans want to speed up repeal of the prevailing wage, block spending on University of Wisconsin System diversity training and expand the statewide voucher school program.

Senate Republicans met behind closed doors Wednesday while the Assembly was debating the budget. Fitzgerald emerged from the meeting saying he still doesn't have the votes.


8:30 p.m.

Three Senate Republicans withholding their support for the state budget have developed a detailed list of demands, including expanding the state's voucher school program and prohibiting the University of Wisconsin System from spending money on cultural training.

Sens. Steve Nass, Duey Stroebel and Chris Kapenga have put together a memo outlining their demands.

Among them: raise the income eligibility limit for the statewide voucher program to 300 percent of the federal poverty level; block the UW System from spending $4 million on "cultural fluency" training for students and faculty; require a local referendum to impose a wheel tax; and move up the repeal of the state's prevailing wage from September 2018 to Jan. 1.


6:15 p.m.

The Wisconsin Assembly is still debating the state budget.

Republicans who control the chamber agreed to give Democrats 12 hours to debate the spending plan Wednesday before voting. Debate began at noon and was still going at 6 p.m. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke told reporters he expects debate will go on until midnight.

Democrats took turns ripping the $76 billion budget. They insisted the spending plan helps the wealthy rather than the working poor, is rigged against the middle class and doesn't provide a long-term solution for road funding.

Republicans defended the budget, saying it increases funding for public schools, freezes University of Wisconsin System tuition and demonstrates the GOP is working for the people of the state, not for government.


4:20 p.m.

Senate Republicans still don't have the 17 votes needed to pass the state budget.

Republicans met privately Wednesday to discuss the budget as the Assembly was preparing to vote on passing the $76 billion spending plan. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there are five or six senators who are still reticent to vote for the plan, but he hopes they will come around by Friday.

That is when the Senate is scheduled to pass it.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the Assembly will not return to act on the budget after it passes it Wednesday.

Republican Sen. Steve Nass says he remains opposed to the budget, saying there are several reasons he won't vote for it. Republicans have a 20-13 majority in the Senate, but they need 17 votes to pass the budget.


12:55 p.m.

The Wisconsin Assembly has begun debate of the $76 billion state budget, more than two months after their work was supposed to be done.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is defending the plan, saying that there is something for everyone to like in it, including tax cuts and more funding for K-12 public schools.

But Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca says the budget is rigged against working families and doesn't come up with a long-term funding solution for roads. Instead, the state is delaying projects and borrowing $400 million.

Democrats are beginning their attack on the budget focusing on a proposal to eliminate the prevailing wage, a move opposed by construction unions.

The Assembly planned to vote on the budget Wednesday night.


12:30 p.m.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he won't be "held hostage" by Senate Republicans who are seeking last-minute changes to the $76 billion state budget to win their support.

His refusal Wednesday to further negotiate with senators came after Gov. Scott Walker said he would sign off on late changes to win over reluctant Republican lawmakers.

Vos says he would only make technical changes to the budget during Assembly debate Wednesday, raising doubt into whether the spending plan would pass the full Legislature this week.

The Senate was scheduled to begin debate on Friday.

Debate began more than two months after the budget was supposed to have been taken effect on July 1.


10:50 a.m.

Assembly Democrats say the Republican-authored state budget up for a vote is rigged against working families.

Democrats spoke out Wednesday before the Assembly was to vote on the $76 billion spending plan. Republicans control the Assembly and Democrats don't have the votes to stop passage of the budget.

Democratic Assembly Leader Peter Barca notes that the budget up for a vote does not include an increase in a tax credit for poor working families that Gov. Scott Walker had proposed. It would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax, a move that would primarily benefit wealthier taxpayers.

Democrats are also blasting the budget for not coming up with a long-term funding solution for Wisconsin roads.


8:55 a.m.

The Wisconsin Senate plans to vote on final passage of the state budget Friday.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald notified lawmakers on Tuesday night that the Senate would be in session Friday to vote on the budget. The Assembly is voting on it Wednesday.

Fitzgerald said Tuesday that he did not yet have the 17 Republican votes needed to pass the $76 billion spending plan. Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he was OK with a couple changes being suggested by reluctant Republican senators in order to secure their support.

The budget is more than two months late due to Republicans who control the Legislature being unable to agree on several key issues, primarily how to pay for transportation funding.


8:30 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker says he supports making further changes to the state budget that may be needed to win enough Republican support for it to pass the Senate.

Walker talked about the budget Wednesday in a conference call from South Korea where he is on a trade mission.

Walker says he would support moving up elimination of the state prevailing wage to Jan. 1 or even sooner. It would end in September 2018 under the current version of the budget.

Walker says he would also be OK with additional reforms at the state Department of Transportation.

Both ideas have been floated by Republican senators as necessary changes to secure their votes. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Tuesday he does not yet have the needed 17 votes to pass the budget.


12:12 a.m.

The Wisconsin Assembly is getting first crack at the $76 billion state budget, beginning debate on the two-year spending plan that's more than two months late but could quickly pass the full Legislature.

The Republican-controlled Assembly planned to vote Wednesday night. That would set up a possible final vote in the Senate this week or early next. Legislative approval would send the budget to Gov. Scott Walker, who's expected to sign it and issue vetoes soon.

Democrats don't have the votes to stop it.

The budget up for debate largely mirrors what Walker introduced in February and comes before he runs for re-election next year. It sends $639 million more to K-12 public schools and imposes a new fee on hybrid vehicles.

Share this article:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?