Walker signs 2-year, $70 billion Wisconsin budget

Walker signs abortion bill
Gov. Scott Walker signing state budget in Pleasant Prairie.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the state budget Sunday after making several dozen vetoes to it.

The budget includes Walker’s major priorities — a $650 million income tax cut, rejection of federal Medicaid expansion, and the expansion of private school vouchers statewide.

Most of Walker’s vetoes to the $70 billion, two-year spending plan are technical. But the governor did veto a provision Sunday in Pleasant Prairie that would have allowed bounty hunters in Wisconsin. They have not been permitted in the state since 1979.

Walker also vetoed a provision that would have kicked the independent Center for Investigative Journalism off of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and barred it from working with university professors. Walker says that’s a matter for the UW System Board of Regents to decide.

“There’s a lot of hype about a veto here and a veto there,” Walker said. “They’re a tiny fraction of this entire budget. What the state Assembly and state Senate passed is so finely aligned with what I’m signing here today — it’s important to focus on that.”

Republicans legislative leaders downplayed the vetoes, saying that the most important budgetary item — the income tax cut — remained.

The measure would cut the average family’s taxes by $152 next year, although Democrats criticized the plan for unfairly benefiting the wealthy.

“It’s unfortunate for the middle class,” said Rep. Peter Barca, the Assembly’s minority leader. “The governor says one thing, that he’s going to have tax relief for the middle class, but then he signs a bill that gives well over 10 times the relief to those making over ($300,000 a year).”

Democrats said they would’ve increased public school spending by twice what Republicans did.

Walker mostly stuck to a message of workforce training, education, taxes, and increasing government efficiency at a speech in Pleasant Prairie before signing the budget into law.

Afterward, he didn’t take questions from reporters who had gathered.

The signing took place at Catalyst Exhibits, a company that moved from Illinois to Pleasant Prairie recently.