GOP lawmakers reject Gov. Evers budget proposal

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV / AP) -- Wisconsin Republicans have voted to reject Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' proposals to accept federal Medicaid expansion, legalize medical marijuana and increase the state minimum wage.

Gov. Tony Evers at a budget listening session in Sun Prairie on April 3, 2019 (WBAY photo)

The Legislature's GOP-controlled budget committee on Thursday voted along party lines to kill those proposals and dozens of other Evers initiatives. The vote came on the first meeting day of the panel as it works to reshape Evers' two-year spending plan.

Republican Rep. John Nygren co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee. He said he does not believe it is a time to change course, while the state is doing well.

"The state has been heading in the right direction, our economy has been extremely successful, unemployment has bee under three percent for I think it has been 14 months in a row now. The biggest challenge we face in the state is having enough workers to fill up the jobs in our own state," Nygren said.

Democrats cited public opinion polls showing broad support for Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that have not taken expansion.

Democratic State Sen. Jon Erpenbach held a press conference with several other Democratic members of the JFC ahead of the executive session. He criticized Republicans for not compromising.

"And so key to this budget is the medicaid expansion you take that out this budget falls apart, absolutely falls apart. Good luck getting K-12 funding, good luck getting 630 million dollars for special needs funding," he said.

But Republicans say they don't want to move an estimated 82,000 people onto the state Medicaid program, even though it would leverage $1.6 billion in new federal money for a host of other health care priorities.