Senate opens debate on Wisconsin budget

Scott Fitzgerald

Minority leader Peter Barca voted for the bill, but is resigning his leadership post on September 30 after a closed door session with Democratic legislators earlier in the month where his colleagues demonstrated their frustration with him. More than 10 weeks already has passed since lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker missed a budget-enactment deadline. Vos, however, said he will not be "held hostage" to several senators within his own party who have specific demands.

The state Assembly began debating the budget shortly after noon Wednesday.

The Assembly planned to vote on the budget Wednesday night. Vos' statement effectively forces the Republican-controlled Senate to pass the budget as is, or ignore his statement and send back the budget with revisions to the Assembly.

Vos laid down the gauntlet at Wednesday's press conference, saying he won't revisit the budget after Wednesday.

Assembly Republicans passed the budget on Wednesday, sending it on to the Senate. Four Democrats voted for the bill and two Republicans voted against it.

"Everyone in Wisconsin can find something to like in this budget from an increased investment in worker training to the extended tuition freeze for the UW System schools", Vos said. Both ideas have been floated by Republican senators who have said they don't yet support the two-year budget.

The governor says the potential Foxconn deal has put our state on the map globally.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, still in South Korea Friday on a trade mission, said he was trying to broker a deal.

"I'm still confident we'll have a budget by the end of the summer", Walker said.


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Fitzgerald had indicated he would call the Senate into session to take up the budget, despite lacking the votes to pass it. Walker said Wednesday he would be fine with moving up the elimination date to January 1 or even earlier.

Republicans need 17 out of their 20 senators to approve the $76 billion budget that was due on July 1, but that has been hung up due to GOP infighting.

Walker showed particular support for the Nass suggestion. "Why would we wait any longer than we have to to provide savings to the taxpayers?"

Kapenga said Thursday he doesn't plan to back down.

"This is wonderful news", said Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, who represents a district near the likely site for the plant. 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.

But Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said the budget is "rigged against working families" and criticized it for favoring the wealthy.

Walker said he's meeting with a slew of government and business leaders while in East Asia. That facility - previously operated by Sharp, which Foxconn recently acquired - also makes LCD screens.

Walker said the Foxconn project is "putting us on the map globally".

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