State senators react to passing of state budget

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Senate passed the state budget on Friday 11 weeks after it was due thanks to a last-minute deal with reluctant Republicans, sending the $76 billion spending plan to Gov. Scott Walker who promised to make several vetoes to secure the deal.

It took some late promises and a phone call from Walker, who is in South Korea, to convince three Republican senators to switch from opposition to support of the spending plan. Republicans were one vote short of the 17 needed to approve the $76 billion plan before the deal with Walker was struck.

Here is the reaction from some local lawmakers:

Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield):

"A key goal entering this budget was addressing the transportation issues that the state has been grappling with. Between the budget and the veto agreements with the Governor, including the transportation reforms, I am encouraged that we will finally have a pathway to a long-term solution."

Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater):

"Every step of the way, State Senate conservatives fought to keep the focus of this budget on protecting middle class families from the added burden of property and gas tax increases. We blocked efforts to kill the UW System tuition freeze that has already saved the average student more than $6,300 over the last four years."

Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg):

"Creating the opportunity for all Wisconsinites to enjoy the quality of life they choose in our great state has always been my priority. The budget process must continually strive to deliver effective and efficient government without encroaching on our freedoms and liberties. I am proud to have impacted the final budget product in a way that continues to advance these cherished principals. I thank Governor Walker for his leadership during this budget process."

Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills):

"This is an outstanding budget and one of the best I've ever worked on. Despite the delay, we are delivering a budget that benefits everyone in the state.

This budget makes the largest real dollar investment in K-12 education ever. That means real money going into classrooms. We are giving more parents control over their children's education by letting them choose the best options for their child.

With major employers like IKEA, Haribo, and Foxconn choosing to locate in Wisconsin. We are making major investments in worker training so our workforce is ready for the family-supporting careers that are heading our way. By continuing the tuition freeze, we are keeping our outstanding UW System schools affordable.

We continue to work to make it more affordable to live, work, and retire in Wisconsin. Taxpayers will see $11.6 billion in tax relief. The average property tax bill this year will be lower than it was in 2010 and 2014. This budget doesn't just cut taxes, it begins the phase out the personal property and eliminates the forestry mill, alternative minimum tax, and the soda water tax! Three taxes, gone.

I'm particularly proud of the investment we are making in protecting our most vulnerable citizens. Wisconsin will soon be the only state in the nation to end the wait list for long-term supports for disabled children. We are investing more than $40 million in wage increases for Personal Care and Family Care workers. More working mothers will able to take promotions because we are eliminating the fiscal cliff in Wisconsin shares.

The budget will help shield taxpayers from any economic uncertainty. With $284 million in our rainy day fund, we are setting aside nearly $200 million in the ending balance of the budget.

This is a great budget that will continue to keep our great state headed in the right direction. On Wisconsin!"

Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee):

"The budget that was passed today reflects a disconnect between Wisconsin’s needs and GOP priorities. While Republicans remembered to include a $4 million giveaway for a tiny airport near a donor’s golf course, the GOP forget our children, our roads, and the vital services our communities depend on."

“Our schools have faced historic cuts under Governor Walker and this budget fails to make whole what Walker has taken away.”

Senator Taylor voiced frustration at Senate Republicans for their failure to keep Walker’s slash-and-crash policies at bay.

“The GOP did little to nothing to spare Wisconsinites from Walker’s far-right agenda. From mandating drug tests for health care to non-compliance with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, the GOP marched in tandem with the Governor to neglect and reject best-practices that other states have already figured out.”

Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee):

“Our state budget is a moral document that should reflect our values and priorities as a state. It should treat people with dignity and respect, provide our communities with real opportunities to succeed, and invest in our future generations. Unfortunately, this budget put forward by Governor Walker and approved today by Senate Republicans puts a divisive political agenda before the well-being of Wisconsin’s children and families.

“Today, I joined my fellow Senate Democrats to offer common-sense amendments that better prioritize our tax dollars. These proposals would create a more fair economy, expand opportunities by investing in our future, prioritize the health of our citizens, and give students the best possible opportunity to get ahead with a quality education. Not surprisingly, Senate Republicans turned down every single one of our amendments while being held hostage by extreme demands by members of their caucus to end diversity training on our university campuses.

“This budget rigs the system for the rich and wealthy on the backs of individuals and families who are among our most vulnerable and in-need. Rather than rob our communities and degrade those who are fighting to make ends meet, I will continue to fight for a Wisconsin that creates pathways for our youth and families to thrive and succeed.”

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee):

“Wisconsin was once a state admired for tough campaign finance laws that protected both our public voice and the integrity of our political process. Those protections have been dangerously eroded as campaign finance laws have been repealed. This can clearly be seen by the campaign spending increase in Wisconsin from $16,930,606 in 2014 to a staggering $28,086,673 in 2016.

“It is our right as citizens to have a strong voice in a healthy democracy and not to be silenced and buried by the bags of corporate special interest money being dumped into Wisconsin campaigns. As shown by the 105 communities across the state voting in favor of referendums across Wisconsin in recent years, Wisconsinites from Caledonia to Monona agree that the current system is not respecting citizens' rights and votes. Changes need to be made to reduce the influence of millionaires and big, corporate spenders on politicians and our political system as a whole.

“Despite broad public concern and advocacy regarding this issue, the party in control has done the opposite and greedily passed legislation that weakened campaign disclosure laws, increased campaign contribution limits, and allowed candidates to coordinate with special interest groups that keep their donors secret.

“Continuing to let powerful special interest groups and wealthy corporations have a financial stranglehold on Wisconsin elections is a betrayal of our shared values, and jeopardizes our democracy. The Campaign Integrity amendment would have restored our neighbors' faith in our democracy and promote fairness in our campaign finance rules, but was rejected by the Senate GOP.

“Wisconsin deserves better.”

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