State Budget

Gov. Walker continues to insist he will not raise taxes or fees to fund road projects in Wisconsin. Co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee Rep. John Nygren says the state has to consider increases, now that it’s heading toward a $939-million shortfall in its transportation budget.

Gov. Walker signed a $72 billion, two-year spending plan into law for  Wisconsin on Sunday at a manufacturing plant in Waukesha, as he prepares to launch a bid for the Republican nomination for president. He will make his announcement at the Waukesha Expo Center late Monday.

In signing the dense budget bill into law, Walker said it is all about keeping taxpayers first. He says his actions lower the average property tax bill, freeze UW System tuition for two more years, put resources into working training and require drug testing for many people receiving public benefits.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
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A two-year $72.7 billion dollar state budget is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Scott Walker. After a two hour delay because of a bomb threat, and about 12 hours of debate, Assembly lawmakers passed the spending plan just before 1 a.m. 

Eleven Republican broke rank and voted along with Democrats against the package, but it wasn’t enough to derail what many Democrats have referred to as a “crap” budget.

For months, they’ve expressed concern over the impact they believe this budget will have on public education.

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As the Wisconsin State Assembly takes up the proposed state budget today, the Senate passed the budget by an 18-15 vote late last night. The substantial last-minute additions to the budget bill, called Motion 999, last Thursday led to an uproar on both sides of the aisle for its proposal to overhaul the state’s open records law.

Ann Althouse

Republicans who control Wisconsin's Senate worked late into the night and passed a $73 billion budget that will dictate state spending for the next two years.

The vote was 18-15, with Republican Rob Cowles joining all 14 Democrats in voting against the measure. It will go to the state Assembly on Wednesday.

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Besides weakening Wisconsin's open records law, other last-minute items Republican legislators inserted into the proposed state budget on Thursday include allowing a seven-day work week and requiring municipalities with water and sewer utilities to service neighbors who need it.

Milwaukee County supervisors hope the public takes note of another addition. It would transfer more power to the county executive, including authority over county land along Milwaukee's downtown lakefront.

Update: Gov. Walker says he and Republican legislative leaders (Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Joint Finance Committee Co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren) have decided to remove open records changes from the state budget and instead form a committee to study the issue.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Flickr.com/pinchof

GOP leaders stood side-by-side on Wednesday to announce they had broken their impasse. It involved whether the state should help fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, whether Wisconsin should change its prevailing wage law, and how much the state should borrow to pay for transportation projects.

Republican leaders have decided to take two of those three items out of the proposed state budget. It could move forward Thursday.  

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks

After weeks of back and forth, GOP leaders on Wednesday announced a budget deal.

Three issues had been the cause for an impasse—a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee, prevailing wage legislation and transportation borrowing.

Republicans now say that the state’s budget committee will vote on including $500 million in bonding for transportation projects, with the possibility of another $350 million if Joint Finance deem the projects necessary. Some projects, including the north leg of the Zoo Interchange reconstruction, will be put on hold.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr

One of Wisconsin’s legislative leaders seems to want to shake his Republican colleagues into action. The Legislature has been at an impasse for weeks over the state budget. 

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Some state employees are one step closer to receiving pay increases for the 2015-2017 fiscal year while others could bring home less money. The states Joint Committee on Employment Relations voted on two different provision on Tuesday now on their way to the legislature.

Under the plan, state troopers would see a 3 percent raise during both the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. Gregory Gracz is director of the Office of State Employee Relations. He says the hope is that the raise would reduce turnover within the organization.

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The Legislature’s budget committee hasn’t met since late May. While Republicans control both houses, the GOP appears to be stuck on a few items, including how to pay for transportation.

Wisconsin has experienced budget gridlock in the past. One way it was solved, was to sweeten the pot for everyone.

road construction
Marge Pitrof

State Republican leaders issued dueling press releases on Thursday, about their positions related to transportation funding in the next state budget.

Sen. Alberta Darling says will not retract her comment that Assembly leaders want to delay work on the Zoo Interchange, in order to pressure the state Senate to approve a hike in the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.

Justin W Kern

Update: Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Joint Finance committee, said Wednesday the panel will not meet this week.

She says lawmakers are still wrestling over which road projects would be affected by an $800 million cut in transportation funding.

Darling says she hopes the panel will resume budget deliberations next week.

Republicans in Madison are still trying to agree on a new budget for Wisconsin. There’s talk that the Joint Finance committee may return to the table on Thursday or Friday.

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As the fiscal year comes to a close, one of the biggest questions that remains is the fate of transportation funding.

Currently, the Wisconsin legislature has significant work to do with Governor Walker's proposed biennial budget, which plans to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for various highway projects. However, one program that this new budget affects especially are Wisconsin's transit programs. 

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