Senate changes to budget plan still up in the airMADISON – The Wisconsin Senate has scheduled a vote for this afternoon on the proposed $62.2 billion state budget. But it remains to be seen what changes they’ll make to the plan.
By: By Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio , Superior Telegram
MADISON – The Wisconsin Senate has scheduled a vote for this afternoon on the proposed $62.2 billion state budget. But it remains to be seen what changes they’ll make to the plan.
Democrats who run the Senate met behind closed doors for a second day Tuesday to talk about their version of the budget. Majority Leader Russ Decker has said he favors a budget that restores the Governor’s version of an oil tax, that bans oil companies from passing on the cost to consumers. Assembly lawmakers removed that ban. The Senator also favors the Governor’s plan to rewrite Wisconsin liability laws involving who gets found at fault in accidents that involve multiple people. Assembly lawmakers killed that proposal.
But any changes Decker wants require the support of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and as of this morning he was mum on where they stood. The only issue he’d discuss at any length was his support for cutting Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s budget along the lines of cuts that passed the legislature’s budget committee. Decker says during his campaign, Van Hollen said he could do more with less. He says any needs of the Justice Department were addressed in the last budget and the budget repair bill. Decker says Van Hollen needs to be “in the mix” with other state agencies.
Republican Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had a different take on those cuts today, calling them “punitive” and “politically motivated.”
But even on the issue of cutting the Department of Justice, Majority Leader Decker would not say definitively where his members stood and any changes they pass won’t be final. Decker said legislative leaders would likely end up negotiating their differences in a conference committee. Rank-and-file lawmakers would then be forced to take an up or down vote on whatever leaders decide.
The Senate is scheduled to debate the budget bill at 1 p.m.