Assembly targets Doyle vetoes to protect fundsMADISON — The Assembly today will try to override Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s vetoes of a budget-repair bill to specifically protect funds for transportation, aid to public schools and health care.
By: By STEVEN WALTERS and STACY FORSTER/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Daily Telegram
MADISON — The Assembly today will try to override Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s vetoes of a budget-repair bill to specifically protect funds for transportation, aid to public schools and health care.
Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, said Tuesday that the Legislature added language to its budget-repair bill that would have stopped Doyle from ordering new cuts in those programs.
But the governor vetoed that language, which Huebsch and Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said could raise property tax bills to pay for schools, cut highway maintenance programs and threaten the SeniorCare program that helps residents 65 and older pay for prescription drugs.
Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner said Doyle is committed to protecting SeniorCare and education and isn’t putting spending in jeopardy. But he said there should be a way to realize savings in those programs.
As a result of Doyle’s vetoes of the Legislature’s budget-repair bill, state agencies must cut spending by $270 million by mid-2009. He vetoed the Legislature’s attempt to exempt transportation, aid to public schools and health care from those cuts — vetoes that the Assembly will try and overturn today.
Of the $270 million, Doyle has said $103 million will come from transportation spending.
Republicans control the Assembly, 52-47; Democrats have a Senate majority, 18-15. The Senate would vote on a veto override only if it passes the Assembly, however.
It takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to override a governor’s veto, which hasn’t happened in 23 years.
Assembly Democratic Leader Jim Kreuser of Kenosha said he was confident none of the vetoes would be overridden.
Also today, the Senate and Assembly both will meet to ratify 15 contracts negotiated with state labor unions. The contracts call for a 2 percent raise retroactive to last July, a 1 percent raise this June and a 2 percent raise in mid-2009 — the same raises that will go to 7,000 state workers not represented by unions.
State workers had expected to get a 2 percent raise this June but agreed to a 1 percent increase instead — a decision that will save about $24 million that will be used to offset the projected deficit. State workers will not see any increase in what they pay for health insurance this year but will see a 15 percent increase in 2009.
— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services