Budget committee passes plan 12-4, removing many of Gov. Evers’ top priorities. Now what?

Budget committee passes plan 12-4, removing many of Gov. Evers’ top priorities. Now what?
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The state’s two-year spending plan will be sent to the full Legislature now that the budget committee finalized it during negotiations this week.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance finished making changes to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ two-year spending plan Thursday, stripping many of his top priorities such as Medicaid expansion, a gas tax increase, the legalization of medical marijuana and raising the state’s minimum wage.

The GOP-controlled budget committee votes to pass the two-year spending plan along party lines 12-4. #news3now pic.twitter.com/wM0EGYyQdi

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) June 13, 2019

As negotiations wrapped up, Rep. Chris Taylor, a Democratic on the committee, said Evers was elected for his ideas.

“(People) were tired of the majority not listening to them,” Taylor said.

“This budget—at the end of the day—really falls short,” says @ChrisTaylorWI of the plan just passed in the state’s budget committee. #news3now pic.twitter.com/ksd25t7DIv

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) June 13, 2019

The plan crafted by Republican leaders that heads to the full state Assembly and Senate will include a newly added $300 million middle-income tax plan, which is less than half of Evers’ proposal. It also includes a $500 million increase for K-12 funding, the first significant increase in road funding in more than a decade, and continues a tuition freeze at University of Wisconsin schools. But the budget looks very different from the one Evers proposed back in February.

Sen. Alberta Darling, a Republican co-chair of the committee, told the panel she believed they were following through on many promises, including growing the economy and fixing roads.

“We are asking people: ‘Are you better off?’ And the vast majority of people, through polls and surveys, are saying, ‘We are better off,'” Darling said.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have remained firm in their stance that the governor’s plan — which they call a “liberal wish list” — spends more than the state can afford. They also say they will not raise sales or income taxes.

Vos has repeatedly said Wisconsin will never take the federal Medicaid expansion money as about 40,000 people would have to give up heavily subsidized private insurance to get on the partially-funded state BadgerCare plan.

The full GOP-controlled state Legislature will take up the plan passed by the budget committee likely sometime in late June. After that, the budget would be sent to Evers’ desk, where he will likely line-item veto or veto the entire spending proposal. He has declined to say so far what he will do.

The budget committee also OK’d increases in vehicle registration and title fees, instead of the 8 cent-gas tax increase and hike in heavy truck fees Evers wanted as part of his $623.7 million road funding package.

The plan approved by the committee spends about $184.6 million less on roads than Evers’ proposal. Transportation advocates have said either plan would be helpful in getting more money for roads.

Republican leaders @SpeakerVos and @SenFitzgerald and GOP lawmakers on the state’s budget committee hold a media availability following the committee passing the budget today.

Vos calls on @GovEvers to sign it: “This is a budget for all of Wisconsin.” #news3now pic.twitter.com/63k2xBsw62

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) June 13, 2019

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross said he felt like he was “kicked in the shins” after the budget committee approved spending $69 million less on the universities than Evers proposed.

Public school advocates previously came to the Capitol to ask for more money for K-12 education during budget negotiations, particularly for special education funding, after the committee passed a $500 million increase for K-12 funding with a $97 million increase for special ed. Evers proposed a $1.4 billion increase for K-12 education, with a $606 million increase for special ed.

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