Lawmakers to vote on state budget, here's what's in and out of the spending plan

NOW: Lawmakers to vote on state budget, here’s what’s in and out of the spending plan

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- On Wednesday, lawmakers will begin taking votes on the state budget after the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee crafted the proposal over the last several weeks.

The Senate will be in session on Wednesday, then the Assembly will follow, where it's expected to pass before the bill heads to Gov. Tony Evers' desk where he can sign the budget, veto, or make partial vetoes to it.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2023-2025 state budget:

Education Funding

K-12 schools will see a $1 billion investment that amounts to a $325 per pupil increase.

Private choice schools would see an increase of $1,100 per student at the K-8 level while private high schools would receive an increase of nearly $3,000 per voucher student.

This was part of a border deal struck between Evers and GOP leaders when crafting the sweeping local government aid package which also allows Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise their sales tax.

Tax Cuts

Republicans proposed cutting taxes by more than $4 billion in tax cuts, the vast majority coming in the form of a $3.5 billion income tax cut.

Under the plan, the state's income brackets will go from four brackets to three. The top bracket would fall from 7.65% to 6.5%. The lowest rate drops to 3.5% under the proposal that would overall reduce taxes by 15%, Republicans said.

Democrats slammed the plan as significant tax breaks for the rich. They noted the average annual tax savings for those making between $500,000 and $1 million would be $6,163. Those earning between $50,000 and $60,000 would save an average of $165 per year.

Wage Increases

The JFC also approved $700 million to cover the cost of pay raises for state employees. Those workers will see a 4% increase this year and 2% next year.

Prison guards will also see a $20 hourly wage boost, from $13 to $33 per hour under the spending plan, as the industry has struggled to retain workers in a tough labor market.

Starting pay for public defenders and assistant district attorneys would increase to $36 an hour under the proposal. Evers proposed raising the hourly wage to $35.

The investment comes after a coalition of criminal justice advocates pushed for higher hourly wages as they continue to experience turnover in the profession.

NFL Draft

Green Bay will receive $2 million in the state budget to help cover the costs of hosting the 2025 NFL draft.

The Department of Tourism would secure those dollars in part of the $20 million in state funding Republicans on the committee set aside in the spending proposal.

NFL officials announced late-May that Green Bay will host the event which officials estimated will draw 240,000 visitors to Wisconsin and generate $20 million for the area, including $94 million across the state.

Two Green Bay area lawmakers, Sen. Rob Cowles and Rep. David Steffen, submitted a motion to the finance committee requesting a $2 million grant to help promote the draft.

PFAS Contaminants

The budget proposal includes $125 million to fight PFAS, known as "forever chemicals," that can have harmful effects on drinking water in some parts of the state.

Transit Funding

The Republican-controlled committee boosted transit funding statewide by 2%. At the same time, GOP lawmakers moved those transit dollars out of the transportation budget, where they have been for the last 50 years, into the general fund.

Transit advocates fear these changes could make them more vulnerable to cuts in the future.

Funding Cuts, Evers Budget Proposal Rejected

The UW System would face a $32 million cut in the state budget for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, which also includes eliminating 188 positions.

The move sparked outrage from Democrats and Gov. Evers, who threatened to veto the entire budget after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced the cuts ahead of the committee's action to slash diversity funding on campuses.

Republicans on the committee also opted to not direct any state funds to keep the state's Office of School Safety open. Federal funding was used to keep the office running at the Department of Justice to review school threats and address ongoing safety concerns. It was created in 2019 after the Parkland school shooting.

Democrats' attempt to continue a $340 million child care program that was created during the pandemic with federal relief aid was rejected by Republicans. Democrats and some child care centers said the Child Care Counts program, created in November 2021, helped keep many businesses afloat as some have struggled to keep their doors open.

As expected, Republicans on the committee also rejected over 500 items in Gov. Evers' budget which were largely liberal policy proposals. Some include marijuana legalization, Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses and expanding paid family leave.

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