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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The state Assembly approved the state’s two-year, $75.7 billion budget Wednesday.

The state Assembly approved the state’s two-year, $75.7 billion budget Wednesday.

Budget passes Assembly; future in Senate uncertain

Without a clear idea if the state Senate has enough votes to pass the state’s two-year budget, the overdue spending bill lurched forward with passage in the state Assembly Wednesday with five GOP lawmakers voting against. 

The budget passed 57-39 with state Reps. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, Janel Brandtjen, R-Menominee Falls, Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, Bob Gannon, R-West Bend, Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin opposing the bill. 

Gov. Scott Walker cheered the bill's passage, saying the budget "puts more actual dollars into K-12 education than ever before" and makes college more affordable. 

The $75.7 billion budget is more than two months late due to several disputes between Republican leaders over transportation funding and tax levels. Although the budget gained traction by passing in the Assembly, four conservative state senators who want to see reduced spending — especially for the Department of Transportation — have said they’re still considering it.

State Sens. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon, Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, are the lawmakers who said they’re still considering their vote.

Republicans have majority control of the Senate 20-13, only leaving room to lose three GOP votes with all Democrats voting against the budget.

Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Wednesday he does not yet have the 17 votes needed to pass the budget through the Senate. The budget needs to pass through both the Senate and Assembly before it can go to Gov. Scott Walker for final approval.

If the Senate doesn’t have the votes or makes any revisions, then the budget heads back to the Assembly.

As the legislation is already two months behind schedule, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Wednesday he will not accept any revisions from the Senate.

“Once we vote for the budget today, we are done with the budget process,” Vos said at a press conference. Vos’ statement effectively forces the Republican-controlled Senate to pass the budget as is, or ignore his statement and send back the budget with revisions to the Assembly.

Fitzgerald, who currently leads the Senate, responded to Vos by saying that the speaker’s refusal to accept the Senate’s revisions of the budget is “not how the process works,” referring to how governments operate on negotiations.

Walker says he’ll stand beside some revisions to the budget bill in order to win over several of the Senate Republicans who are holding out against passing it forward. Vos, however, said he will not be “held hostage” to several senators within his own party who have specific demands.

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“We are not making wholesale changes to appease one senator with additional budget requests," Vos said.

As the Senate’s vote to pass the budget looms this Friday, current tensions within the Republican party renew fear that the budget will not pass on its first round. 

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