Assembly Budget Debate is Short in First Day

Jun 19, 2013

The state Assembly was supposed to put in a day-long session Tuesday debating the budget, but ended up only deliberating for 15 minutes.

Lawmakers in the state Assembly spent most of their time Tuesday waiting for budget changes.
Credit credit bcdixit, flickr

Action was delayed while lawmakers waited for Republican leadership to draft an amendment that contains a series of changes to the bill.

Before the start of Tuesday’s session, both sides agreed to time limits to avoid late-night debate and votes that had become common in the Assembly in recent years, particularly on the budget.

So, when the clock struck 5:00 yesterday afternoon, it was time to go home – even though lawmakers had not taken any action on the biennial budget.

During the brief debate, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos managed to squeeze in some praise for the GOP-crafted budget. He says it contains one of the largest tax cuts in state history.

“It decreases taxes by nearly $1 billion over the course of the next biennium. It simplifies the income tax code, gets rid of unnecessary special interest giveaways and finally Wisconsin hopefully, will no longer be in the ten worst states in terms of our ranking for income taxes,” Vos says.

Vos also touted the budget’s $300 million in increased funding for public schools and its statewide expansion of the school choice program.

Democrats have spent the past few weeks blasting the budget, in part, because of the voucher expansion. On Tuesday, only one Democrat had a chance to speak before the Assembly broke for the night. State Rep. Brett Hulsey says Republicans make the bill sound good, but if you take a closer look, it’s a bad budget.

“This budget reminds me of the car I took for a test drive last week. It was a shiny red convertible, it looked like a lot of fun, I drove it around, it seemed like it was running okay until I went to the airport to pick up my mother and it started chugging on the way out there and then it wouldn’t start, then I jumped it and then we were driving back and it died on the way back from the airport,” Hulsey says.

Hulsey introduced a package of changes that included more money for public schools and for the UW System. The amendment failed on a voice vote. The Assembly is scheduled to resume debate at 9:30 this morning, with a final vote on the budget expected by 5:30.