Assembly moves to pass Wisconsin budget, Senate not on board – McClatchy Washington Bureau
The Wisconsin Assembly prepared to pass the $76 billion state budget Wednesday even as the state Senate’s leader said he didn’t have enough votes to pass the two-year spending plan.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos pushed ahead with a vote anyway, saying he would not be “held hostage” by Senate Republicans who are seeking last-minute changes to the budget that is already 10 weeks late. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald emerged from a closed-door meeting with senators to say he still didn’t have the needed 17 votes, but he hoped to get there by Friday when the Senate plans to vote on the budget.
“I think the responsibility of governing has to settle in,” Republican Sen. Alberta Darling said after the meeting. She predicted reticent senators would come around the vote for the budget Friday, adding “It’s not perfect, no budget ever is.”
The proposal largely mirrors what Gov. Scott Walker introduced in February and comes as he is preparing to run for a third term next year. It increases spending for K-12 public schools by 5.9 percent, freezes tuition on University of Wisconsin campuses, raises fees on electric and hybrid car drivers, and borrows $400 million more for road projects. All prevailing wage requirements for state projects would be eliminated under the budget in September 2018.
Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly by their largest margins in decades but have struggled to find agreement on the budget, leading to its late passage. The spending plan was due on July 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year, but Republicans spent the summer quarreling over how to pay for road work. Current spending levels continued during the impasse, lessening the urgency for Republicans to reach a deal.