GOP-led budget committee removes nearly 400 items from Gov. Evers' proposal

NOW: GOP-led budget committee removes nearly 400 items from Gov. Evers’ proposal

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS-58) -- Republican lawmakers on the budget writing committee removed nearly 400 items from Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal and will instead build off the current budget, which marks the beginning of crafting the next two-year spending plan. 

Scrapping several of Evers’ proposals means the committee will work off the current budget, which two years ago was rewritten by Republicans and eventually signed by Gov. Evers without any Democrats voting for it. 

Republican co-chairs of the committee, Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), called Evers’ budget “unrealistic,” because it included tax increases and policy items such as legalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage. 

“We will be removing 384 items that are divisive policy,” said Marklein. “The budget we will be adopting will be reasonable, responsible and realistic.”

Proposals no longer in the budget also include police reform and Medicaid expansion. 

“It’s very frustrating,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point). “There were a lot of things in there the people of Wisconsin wanted.”

The move to basically gut Evers' entire budget proposal will eliminate more than $3 billion in revenue. About $1.6 billion of that was from Republicans rejecting the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare. 

Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said the move would “punch a hole” in the budget. 

For over an hour, the committee debated. Democrats pled to keep Medicaid expansion in the state budget, but Republicans ultimately voted to remove it, calling it an “expansion of welfare.”

“This crap we’ve been hearing from the other side, now every time I say this is an expansion of welfare, I will tell it like it is, and that is what it is,” said Born. 

Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) fired back at Republicans' use of words saying, “this is about making sure human beings have medical coverage.”

The committee will meet over the next several weeks to craft the next budget.

Before removing several of Evers' items, the committee unanimously approved a proposal to expand the number of beds at the Mendota juvenile treatment center. The move aims to transfer juveniles from the youth prisons at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, which lawmakers have attempted to close for years. 

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