State News

State’s two-year budget almost finalized after Senate vote

The state Senate voted Friday night to approve the state budget, the final hurdle before the document is ready for Gov. Scott Walker's signature

The state Senate voted Friday night to approve the state budget, the final hurdle before the document is ready for Gov. Scott Walker's signature

Image By: Katie Scheidt and Katie Scheidt

The Republican-controlled state Senate clinched just enough votes Friday to pass Wisconsin’s two-year budget and send it to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk for final signature.

The budget passed 19-14 after reports Thursday said the Senate did not have enough support from the GOP. The uncertainty stemmed from four conservative senators who believe the $76 billion spending plan was too high.

Several closed-door meetings were held Friday to work out a deal in an effort to push the two-month late budget to Walker.

Friday, State Sens. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, and Steven Nass, R-Whitewater, reached a deal with Walker where the Walker will strike a series of provisions in the bill. Those issues include a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law, and a mandate limiting the ability of school districts to conduct referendums to raise funds.

The governor has the ability to line-item veto parts of any bill, meaning he can take out parts of the budget that he doesn’t like before signing the rest into law.

State Sen. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon, was the lone Republican senator to vote against the budget bill, with Nass, Kapenga and Stroebel throwing their support behind the proposal.

This comes days after three of the senators released a list of provisions they want to the budget in order to gain their approval, including a change to bar UW schools from instituting mandatory diversity or cultural competency training.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, had earlier called these changes a “ransom list.”

The state Assembly passed the budget Wednesday on a 57-39 vote. Five GOP lawmakers opposed the bill, along with every Democratic Assembly member.

Vos threatened Thursday that his chamber would not consider the budget again if the Senate made changes to it.

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

Since the budget passed without changes, it will go directly to Walker rather than back to the Senate.

Democrats blasted the budget as overdue and falling short of what was required to help the state’s public schools and working families.

“This budget is a complete failure. Republicans failed our communities, failed our students and their families, failed to provide opportunities for more of our people to prosper,” state Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said in a statement. “Republicans have had six years to figure out how to govern. Governing is clearly not within their wheelhouse.”

Walker is expected to sign the bill when he returns from a trade trip to South Korea in the coming days.

UPDATE 9/16/17 at 6:50pm: This article was updated to clarify that Sen.Craig was the only Republican senator to vote against the budget bill, not the only senator. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error. 

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