budget

Senate Republicans passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint late Thursday by a narrow 51-49 vote, with Kentucky's Sen. Rand Paul joining Democrats in opposing the measure considered a key step in forward on President Trump's promises of a tax overhaul.

The White House praised the bill, saying it "creates a pathway to unleash the potential of the American economy through tax reform and tax cuts."

Justin Kern

The state Senate approved a $76 billion spending plan Friday night and sent it to Gov. Scott Walker.  He's promised to make several vetoes to secure the deal.  One would make repeal of the prevailing wage for state construction projects effective immediately. 

The budget is 11 weeks overdue and three GOP senators were threatening to vote against it, but it finally passed after some last minute promises and a phone call from Walker, who is currently overseas on a trade mission. 

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Flickr.com/pinchof

The Wisconsin State Assembly late last night passed a $76 billion budget that is now headed to the state Senate, where it is unclear whether Republicans have the vote. 

The new fiscal year began on July 1, and since then, the state has been operating on the previous budget. The Assembly debated for 11 hours on Wednesday, and as expected, Democrats introduced a number of amendments, all of which were rejected by Republicans.

BRAD WILSON / FLICKR

The Racine Unified School District is in danger of being dismantled. State lawmakers put a rule into effect in 2015 that impacts districts that receive a failing report card two years in a row.

The rule allows the worst-performing schools to be pulled out of a district. It also allows the creation of a separate school district. Meanwhile, a second measure would allow municipalities in Racine County to secede from Unified. The debate over what should happen with the district is tied to the two-year state budget that lawmakers are considering this week.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is putting the final touches on the state budget. One of the items members took up Wednesday was an expansion of vouchers for special needs students. After more than an hour of contentious debate, the panel voted along party lines, 12 to four in favor of doubling the program.

Justin W Kern

The Joint Finance committee held a marathon session Tuesday and in the end, advanced some huge policy items. The panel approved a road funding plan that would delay a couple of major freeway projects in Milwaukee County, plus impose new fees on electric and hybrid cars. Lawmakers also rubber stamped a number of changes to the Foxconn deal, and sent the bill back to the Assembly for another vote.

Althouse

At long last, the Legislature's Joint Finance committee is going to decide how to pay for roads and plug a $1 billion hole in the state's transportation budget. The panel is scheduled to meet today to vote on transportation, one of the few remaining items left to tackle, after a long delay in debate over the biennial spending plan. Typically, lawmakers approve the budget before the end of June.

AGCREATIVELAB, FOTOLIA

Wisconsin's K-12 schools are on target to see more money in the next two years – just not quite as much as they’d originally been promised by the Governor.

It was months ago that we first heard about Gov. Scott Walker’s K-12 funding proposal for the current two-year state budget. Since February, Walker has been touring the state, touting a record $649 million increase for state spending on public schools.

Walker has called education a ‘top priority’ for the new biennium.

Marti Mikkelson

Mayor Tom Barrett said an increase to Milwaukee’s sales tax is necessary to balance a tight city budget. While previewing city budget challenges Tuesday night, he told about 100 people at the Zeidler Municipal Building that the city faces a dire budget situation for 2018, and called the current fiscal model unsustainable. 

Barrett said in the past few years, pension costs that the city pays to retirees have skyrocketed while the state has cut back on shared revenue payments to municipalities.

Justin W Kern

It's been nearly a month since lawmakers were supposed to pass a state budget, and discussions remain at a standstill.  The issue that continues to hold up talks, is how to pay for roads.  Legislative leaders are trying to figure out how to plug a billion dollar hole in the transportation budget, without delaying major projects such as the Zoo Interchange.  

NateBeal via Wiki Commons

There are two Amtrak routes that run through Wisconsin - the Hiawatha, which carries passengers between Milwaukee and Chicago; and the Empire Builder, which transects the state as it makes its way from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest.  President Trump's proposed budget would eliminate the Empire Builder, and that - say rail advocates - would put the Hiawatha at risk, as well.

Althouse

State lawmakers on the budget writing committee Thursday rejected Gov. Walker’s proposed switch to a self-insurance model for state employees. Instead, the panel came up with other ways to save money. One of those methods likely would lead to an increase in health care premiums for state workers.

Justin W Kern

State budget talks have stalled in Madison, as has happened in the past. Wisconsin lawmakers hope to pass a two-year spending plan by June 30, but it appears unlikely.

The biggest problem the state faces is a $1 billion hole in its transportation budget; Gov. Walker and fellow Republicans who control the Legislature differ on how to plug it. The state collects money through its gas tax and vehicle registration fee. The state gas tax is 31 cents per gallon, while the registration fee is $75 per vehicle.

ADELIE FREYJA ANNABEL, FLICKR

Wisconsin lawmakers are deciding whether to reward UW System schools based on how they perform. And experts say the idea has its share of pros and cons.

Bob Bach

How to pay for roads? It’s a question states across the country are struggling with, including in Wisconsin. While some Republicans are pushing for all revenue options to be on the table, Governor Walker has said he will not raise taxes, including the gas tax, unless there’s a corresponding decline somewhere else in the budget. 

Thursday, some members of the GOP may unveil a new transportation funding scheme. It involves placing a sales tax on gasoline, flattening the income tax and moving away from the state’s Great Depression-era minimum mark-up law.

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