Wisconsin Assembly begins budget debate
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Latest on Wisconsin budget debate (all times local):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 pas the budget.
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.