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Wisconsin Assembly passes state budget

Early Thursday morning, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted 52-46 to pass Governor Walker's proposed two-year budget, with all Democrats and several Republicans voting against the spending plan.

Debate on the budget was interrupted for roughly two hours Wednesday afternoon when state officials received reports of what they call a credible bomb threat. The Capitol building was evacuated as police searched the building.

Now that the budget has passed both the Senate and Assembly, Governor Walker's spokeswoman says staff will set a day and time for signing.

Assembly Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement of the 2015-2017 budget:

“It is unfortunate that my ‘no’ vote on the Republican state budget was such an easy decision for me to arrive at early this morning.  From the time this biennial spending plan was introduced by Governor Walker this past winter, it has been clear that members of the majority party are prioritizing giveaways to special interests instead of investing in the people of Wisconsin.  While Republicans will stop at nothing to harm our public schools and disrespect our local communities, my fellow Democrats and I fought for the rights of our constituents. 

“I was proud to stand with my Democratic colleagues in offering a wide array of amendments that would have made this spending plan better for working Wisconsinites.  Unfortunately, it became clear during debate that the Republican majority has sold out the needs of middle-class Wisconsin residents to prop up special interests and the personal goals of our absent governor.” 

Madison –Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) issued the following statement following the Assembly’s action on Wisconsin’s 2015-2017 biennial budget:
“Today I voted to make sure your taxes don’t increase. I voted to cut government red tape, promote job growth, eliminate the prevailing wage on local government projects, keep higher education affordable, increase aid to K-12 education, and protect our state’s long term care programs.
This budget shows our continued commitment to the taxpayer. It demonstrates prudent, fiscal budgeting that will ensure we spend within our state’s financial means. We listened to the citizens and took what they had to say to heart. We worked to improve the Governor’s budget proposal, and in the end we were successful.”

Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, released the following statement regarding the final passage of the 2015-2017 State Budget:

“It was an honor to serve as a member of the Joint Finance Committee.  Unfortunately, Republicans have taken Governor Walker’s terrible budget on a trajectory that has become more and more miserable with each vote. 

“Until recently, Wisconsin was known as a place where legislators from both sides of the aisle had always made public education a top priority- it’s why people came here to live and raise their families.  That has all changed.  Under Republican control, Wisconsin classrooms have been cut by $1.3 billion in state aid.  This budget also contains a $250 million historic cut to Wisconsin’s number one job creation engine, the UW System.

“After hearing from thousands of individuals opposing the dismantling of Wisconsin’s nationally recognized long term care system, the Republicans ignored their constituents and fixed nothing.  While Republicans removed provisions related to Long-Term Care, IRIS and ADRCs, their budget requires DHS to submit a waiver with almost all of the requests that resemble the Governor’s proposal, providing even more uncertainty for those with disabilities and the elderly.

“The Governor and Legislative Republicans’ budget is a targeted attack on natural resources in the state of Wisconsin.  Their moves are directly pointed at environmental and outdoor economic activity drivers at a time when Wisconsin has a thriving tourism industry generating over $1.4 billion in state and local revenue.  This is something that we should be proud of and work to protect, instead we are seeing cuts and loosening of standards.  This budget is neglecting families and future generations’ freedom to enjoy Wisconsin’s rich heritage of hunting, fishing, recreation, and simply being outdoors to enjoy our natural resources. 

“Finally, after talking all the talk about finding a sustainable revenue source for Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure, Republicans proved they ultimately are unable to walk the walk.  Instead of choosing to lead on decisions on how to fund transportation and which projects to fund, Republicans in the legislature kicked the can down the road.  The result of their changes is 5,500 fewer construction jobs and another $1 million bill for taxpayers to yet again study how to pay for roads and bridges in our state.

“In reflecting back, I find it ironic that the Assembly Speaker started today’s debate by stating that this budget is ‘a reflection of Wisconsin’.  From beginning to end, it is difficult to imagine a budget that less reflects the values of Wisconsinites.”

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