Assembly Advances State Budget
The state Assembly quickly finished its work Wednesday, on Wisconsin's proposed 2013-15 state budget, after Democrats decided not to offer amendments.
The plan totals $70 billion and, among other provisions, would:
-- cut income taxes by $650 million
-- expand the school voucher program statewide
-- concur with Gov. Walker to reject federal money to expand the state Medicaid program to all households living at up to 130% of the federal poverty level. Instead, the state will cover those with incomes at or below 100% of the poverty line
-- eliminate local residency rules, including for volunteer first-responders
-- freeze UW System tuition rates for two years
Republican members made 27 changes to the blueprint, many during party meetings on Tuesday. The changes include:
-- delaying, for at least a year, a decision on easing requirements for high-capacity wells, such as those used in sand mining operations
-- agreeing not to limit public access near a proposed mine in northern Wisconsin, but giving the DNR permission to enact emergency rules.
Wednesday's final Assembly vote was 55-42. on Thursday, the state Senate takes its turn.
Republican leaders call the tentative budget good for the state and its economy.
Democratic leaders claim the package will hurt the middle class. They said they decided not to submit amendments, because Republicans indicated none would move forward.