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4 public hearings on Walker budget planned

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget writing committee plans four public hearings on Governor Scott Walker's two-year state budget next month.

The first hearing is April 4th in the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale, April 8th at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, April 10th in Lake Delton and April 18th in Baldwin, west of Eau Claire near the Minnesota border.

The hearings offer members of the public a chance to comment before members of the Joint Finance Committee about the governor's plan. After the hearings, the Republican-controlled committee will meet over a period of weeks to vote on making changes, without further public comment.

The committee's version of the budget will go to the Assembly and Senate to vote on sometime in June.


UW System head says budget would keep tuitions low

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The head of the University of Wisconsin System says the governor's proposed budget could help lead to the lowest tuition increases in a decade.

Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget calls for more than $181 million in new funding. Speaking to the Legislature's budget committee Thursday, UW System President Kevin Reilly said the proposed level of funding would help keep education affordable and prepare more students for high-skill jobs.

Reilly says $153 million of the total is already committed to expenses such as leases, utilities and costs associated with previously approved construction and renovation projects.

A handful of people attended the budget committee's meeting wearing red T-shirts that read, "Cap Tuition at UW." Walker's budget would lift a tuition cap that currently limits tuition hikes to 5.5 percent, and students have called on legislators to renew the cap.


Memorial group delays decision on Wis. officer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A nonprofit group has delayed a final decision on whether to add the name of a fallen Wisconsin police officer to its Washington, D.C. memorial.

The board of directors of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund met Thursday and decided to reconsider an earlier decision by its names committee not to include Wauwatosa police Officer Jennifer Sebena's name on its memorial.

In a statement, chairman and CEO Craig Floyd says the memorial fund is "very sensitive to the unique circumstances" of Sebena's death and believes more research is warranted. Floyd says a final decision will be made by early 2014.

Sebena was gunned down December 24th. Her husband, 30-year-old Benjamin Sebena, is charged in her death.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association says it's frustrated by the memorial's delay.


Restitution hearing rescheduled for ex-Walker aide

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former top aide to Governor Scott Walker will find out next month how much restitution he owes following a conviction on a theft charge.

Timothy Russell pleaded guilty to stealing more than $20,000 from a nonprofit group that Walker appointed him to lead back when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.

Russell was sentenced in January to two years in prison. At that hearing prosecutors sought restitution but turned down the defense's offer of $22,000, saying the amount should be higher. A hearing to settle on an amount was set for Thursday, but was rescheduled for April 26th.

Defense attorney Parker Mathers tells The Associated Press he asked that the hearing be rescheduled because there were no victims in court. Russell, who is in prison, appeared by video.


Larson, Barca won't comment on challenging Walker

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democratic legislative leaders aren't saying whether they will run against Republican Governor Scott Walker next year.

Senate minority leader Chris Larson of Milwaukee and Assembly minority leader Peter Barca of Kenosha held a conference call Thursday to criticize Walker's economic policies and how many jobs have been added since he was elected in 2010.

When asked if either of them planned to run against Walker in 2014, neither Barca nor Larson answered the question.

Barca says he is focused on working to improve Walker's budget that is pending before the Legislature. Larson says instead of focusing on politics, he wants to find ways for Republicans and Democrats to work together on Walker's budget.

Barca says he is confident Democrats will field a strong candidate in 2014.


Wis. offers insurance tips for spring travelers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's insurance commissioner has some tips for travelers taking spring vacations.

Commissioner Theodore Nickel says travelers should consider buying insurance for expensive trips, but he says be sure to read and understand the policy before buying.

Nickel says travel insurance can cover everything from severe weather, illness, family emergencies and bankruptcy of travel agencies or cruise lines.

By buying travel insurance, travelers can cancel their trips if emergencies happen, claim damages if their belongings are missing or call for medical assistance on the road.

Nickel says travel insurance has limitations and exclusions to certain pre-existing conditions. He says make sure any policy you buy will cover unforeseen events particular to your trip.

Copyright: Associated Press 2013

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