Senate to take up state budget today

Jon Byman

Inside the State Capitol in Madison. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Senate to take up state budget today

CREATED Jun. 20, 2013

MADISON - A day after Democrats in the Assembly shocked Republicans by offering no opposition to the state budget, the Senate will take up the spending plan.

Chris Larson, the Democratic leader in the Senate, says there will be more opposition when the budget debate starts there.

"The margins are a little bit different in the Assembly where they figured it would be just as much as talking to a brick wall.  In the Senate, there are a few more folks who are reasonable on the Republican side," Larson said.

Larsen plans to bring a welcome mat from home and put it outside his office.  He hopes it will welcome Republicans to the Democrats' side as the left tries to muster a few changes in the GOP spending plan.

Republican Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald is working to make sure his party stays together.  "I think it's difficult for any Republican to really make the case that this budget is not a good budget for the taxpayers of Wisconsin," Fitzgerald said.

Three Republicans voted against the spending plan in the Assembly.  One of them, Steve Nass, was concerned about a structural deficit.  Most Republicans argue that growth will make up for that deficit.

The budget includes tax cuts for everyone in Wisconsin.  Democrats argue those cuts unfairly favor the wealthy.  Republicans point out that people who get the biggest cuts already pay the most taxes.

School choice would expand under the deal and parents who send kids to private school could deduct up to $4,000 for private school tuition paid for each kindergarten through eighth-grade student and up to $10,000 per high school student.

Residency rules would go away under the budget, although communities could enact some restrictions for police, fire or other emergency personnel.

The budget would also allow bail bondsmen in the state.

The Senate could vote as early as Thursday.  Governor Walker has said he thinks he will be able to sign the budget as soon as a week after he gets it.