Assembly Budget Battle To Rage Long Into the Night

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: The Assembly is debating the budget, and with more than $50 billion in state spending up for grabs, both sides zeroed in on their primary issues.

"I think it's a budget that tries to give taxpayers something they can afford, while at the same time spending dramatic new amounts of money on public schools," says Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo).

"There's no way around it. I think our schools got the short end of the stick on this," says Rep. Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha).

Assembly Democrats expect to vote against the budget, saying the increased spending for public schools doesn't even cover inflation, and will either force massive cuts or massive property tax increases.

But a couple Republicans have also said they don't support the budget, because it doesn't cut enough.

"I intend to vote no because the spending still has not been reigned under control," says Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

"What I really need is 10 other Republicans in the Assembly majority who would join me and say this budget is too much, we need to trim it back," says Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue).

Assembly Speaker Gard says he has the votes to pass the budget. "It's a very high priority for more than 50 of the members here and we're going to get that done. We have a working majority that will do this and if a couple Republicans want to vote no that's fine with me."

Lawmakers figure to be busy well into the night inside the Assembly. That's because Democrats have proposed more than 120 amendments.

"I wouldn't plan on having dinner at home tonight. We're going to be here a while and it may go late in the morning," says Rep. Kreuser.

Even with the late night, Kreuser isn't optimistic about getting their amendments passed. "I'm not betting on any of them right now."

Speaker Gard says after the Assembly passes the budget, the Senate will take it up on Thursday.

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