Senate still 1 vote short of passing budget

Senate still 1 vote short of passing budget

Current spending levels continue until a new budget is in place, ensuring state government can continue to operate, but as the weeks have slid by questions about why Republicans can't get the spending plan done when they control both legislative houses have grown more intense.

Without a clear idea if the state Senate has enough votes to pass the state's two-year budget, the overdue spending bill lurched forward with passage in the state Assembly Wednesday with five GOP lawmakers voting against.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he wants to vote on the budget on Friday but doesn't have the votes.

Walker is not available to put any pressure on the Republican holdouts in person.

"We are not going to allow individual senators to rewrite the budget", Vos said. Walker made calls to senators "to listen to their concerns and reach a solution", according to the governor's spokesman, Tom Evenson.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, derided their GOP counterparts for the last-minute hiccups.

Nass, Stroebel and Kapenga wrote a memo demanding amendments that would prohibit UW from spending $4 million on diversity training for students and faculty; raise the income eligibility for the statewide voucher program to 300 percent of the federal poverty level; repeal the state prevailing wage on January 1; and forbid municipalities to impose any wheel tax not approved through a referendum.

Another demand: barring the University of Wisconsin System from spending on "mandatory diversity, sensitivity and cultural fluency training".

The Senate convened momentarily Friday morning, then immediately recessed so GOP senators could meet privately.

Fitzgerald had indicated he would call the Senate into session to take up the budget, despite lacking the votes to pass it.

Fitzgerald, who now leads the Senate, responded to Vos by saying that the speaker's refusal to accept the Senate's revisions of the budget is "not how the process works", referring to how governments operate on negotiations.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters Thursday that his chamber would reject any Senate changes. They also decried what they described as Republicans' "failure of leadership" in their transportation budget, which is delaying some large highway expansion projects in southeast Wisconsin and cutting funding for highway resurfacing projects. It sends $639 million more to K-12 public schools and imposes a new fee on hybrid vehicles.

The budget includes a $639 million funding increase for Wisconsin school districts and boosts the household income limits for participation in the statewide private voucher school program.

Taxes for high earners and businesses are cut in the budget, which begins to roll back a personal property tax that businesses pay for machinery and tools. It would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax, a move that would primarily benefit wealthier taxpayers. The budget raises that to 220 percent of the poverty level.

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