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Evers “looking forward” to going over budget passed by Senate

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 8:54 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP/WBAY) - The Wisconsin Senate passed the $87 billion state budget.

The Senate passed the document on a 23-9 vote Wednesday evening with bipartisan support following hours of debate throughout the day.

The bill now goes to Gov. Tony Evers. He can choose to sign it or veto portions of it.

On Thursday, the governor said he had not yet seen the plan. He was asked if he planned to sign it in full.

“The answer’s going to be vague because we have not received that budget. Hopefully we’ll be receiving it from the legislature within the next few days and so much of the decision making I do have is going to be relied upon the actual language of the bills, which we have not seen. So looking forward to finally getting it and spending time over the next few days going through it and seeing what we’re going to do with different parts of it that may be changed. It’s too early. As soon as we get it, we’ll start that process,” Evers said.

Three democratic senators voted for the bill, including Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason).

The biggest topic of debate was over a projected surplus in tax revenue.

RELATED: “Unprecedented” revenue growth forecast for Wisconsin budget

Republicans opted to put most of the $4 billion toward tax-cuts, specifically income tax.

Democrats said that money should go to schools and broadband expansion.

RELATED: Wisconsin Republicans insert $3.3 billion tax cut in budget

RELATED: Republicans propose $125 million more for broadband

The Assembly approved the budget after about eight hours of debate Tuesday.

Assembly members approved the budget by a vote of 64-34.

RELATED: Wisconsin Assembly passes state budget in late night vote

“I think, in fact, the people who are gonna benefit from it, they don’t like the idea it’s on borrowed money. They want to know the state invests in them and doesn’t have to do it by borrowing,” said Senator Bewley.

“I realize the other side is continuing to push for more government programs and we have to restrain ourselves because you have to feed the beast going forward. That’s the problem. We have to have a controlled amount of spending, which we’ve done and we’re saving, putting money in the piggy bank,” said Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

Senate approval sends the budget to Evers, who can sign it or use his partial veto powers to rewrite the document.

The budget has changed significantly since Evers originally created it.

RELATED: Evers proposes $200 million to help small businesses recover from pandemic

RELATED: Republicans scrap Evers’ priorities, start writing new budget

RELATED: Funding for state building projects cut by $810 million

RELATED: Republicans vote against body cameras for Wisconsin Capitol police

RELATED: Lawmakers add emergency fund for veterans homes to Wisconsin budget plan

The governor will have six days excluding Sundays to take action on the budget once it reaches his desk.

If he does nothing it automatically becomes law.

CLICK HERE to read the full budget.

Multiple area senators issued statements following the budget’s passing Wednesday evening.

Their full statements can be found below:

“The full Legislature has now passed the most conservative budget in a generation turning Governor Evers’ bloated, political document into a responsible, bi-partisan success story for our state. In addition to a transformational $3.4 billion tax cut, the Legislature made targeted investments in every essential function of state government including significant new money to schools, frontline healthcare workers, and a fully-funded transportation system all while maintaining historically low state spending. During the last decade, Legislative Republicans spent within our means and kept more money in the hands of hard-working taxpayers and job creators. Today, we doubled down on our past work with a historic budget that keeps the People of Wisconsin on course for another decade of prosperity and success.”

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg)

After the turbulent year that Wisconsin families and communities went through, the Republican budget is incredibly disappointing compared to what was originally introduced by the Governor. Republicans failed to show up at the height of the pandemic when their constituents needed them most and the budget they have created is no different. Over the last several months, Gov. Evers and Legislative Democrats have tirelessly tried to capture federal funds and incentives to invest in schools, strengthen communities and grow their economies. Meanwhile, Republicans are not only refusing to bring home money that belongs to Wisconsinites, but they’re hoarding money that should be invested back into every corner of this state. Gov. Tony Evers’ original budget proposal seized on an historic opportunity to capture funds to invest in families, strengthen communities and ensure a prosperous economic bounce-back. Families, schools, and small businesses depend on a responsible budget that invests in our priorities. We need bold, innovative solutions in order to make Wisconsin a place where future generations want to work and live – the Republican budget misses the mark and because it underfunds our K-12 schools so severely, I voted no. I am hopeful that through his constitutional powers, Governor Evers will be able to make necessary modifications to sign a budget that better reflects the needs of our state

Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point)

“The budget we passed today funds important needs in Wisconsin and sets us up for success in future. It strengthens our rainy day fund, reduces debt, and will keep us ready for any unforeseen future problems. We’ve resisted the Governor’s suggestion to spend on a wish list, and instead are returning your hard earned tax dollars in a tax cut. At the same time, we put $100 million more to fix our local roads, funded schools at historic levels, and invested more money to help keep healthcare accessible and affordable. I am proud that we were able to also secure important projects for the Green Bay area. This included a new research center for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and a solid path forward to complete the Southern Bridge in De Pere. Everyone should encourage the Governor to sign this responsible budget into law. This budget is great for Wisconsin families and keeps our state on the path for continued growth”

Senator Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay)

“When Governor Evers introduced his 2021-23 budget proposal back in February, one thing was abundantly clear - he listened to what Wisconsinites across the state wanted and crafted a budget that represents the will of the people. I respect the governor’s approach because it serves as a guide for what elected officials should be focused on every day in the Capitol: improving the lives of hardworking people. Our state government should work for everyone, not just the wealthy and well connected. It is our duty to ensure that ordinary people have confidence that their voice is reflected in the work we do. Many of the items Republicans stripped from the budget are issues that have widespread public support, like increasing access to health care through Medicaid expansion, legalizing cannabis, creating fair maps, ensuring clean water, expanding broadband, and increasing equity. These aren’t partisan priorities, they’re Wisconsin priorities. Removing these core provisions show that Republicans are increasingly out of touch with what people want in this state, and are instead more interested in unrealistic political ploys than honest governing. I’m disappointed that there are so many missed opportunities in this budget. We had the opportunity to invest in health care by finally expanding Medicaid and taking advantage of the one-time chance to bring in an additional $1.6 billion federal dollars. Republicans said no. We had the opportunity to make a significant investment in rural broadband by committing $200 million in state dollars. Republicans chose to reduce this number to a borrowed $125 million. We had the opportunity to make a generational investment in our children with $1.6 billion toward K-12 public education. Republicans slashed that to $256 million, a fraction of what the governor proposed. I want what is best for Wisconsin. I want our great state to be left in a better place than where we found it for our children. I will never stop advocating for policies that the fabulous people of Wisconsin deserve, and I will continue to come to work every day with your voices and hopes in mind.”

Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison)

“I am excited about this budget and I am proud to have voted “yes” on the Senate floor today. Today’s vote is a victory for not only the 18th Senate District, but all Wisconsinites. This budget takes an enormous $4.4 billion surplus and sends the money back to the hard-working taxpayers in the form of a $3.4 billion tax cut. Income taxes will be cut by $2.5 billion and property taxes by $650 million. This will result in a $1,200 savings for a typical family. We included funding to completely remove the rest of the Personal Property Tax. This returns $200 million back to Main Street businesses throughout the state, helping to boost the backbone of our economy. This budget makes historic investments in our education system, putting over $16 billion towards our schools. That’s $678,537,000 more than the previous budget. We were able to fund our education priorities and put more spending than ever before on mental health, special education, and high cost transportation. In addition to historic investments in education, we added a $100 million boost for local, rural roads and increased General Transportation Aids. These are historic investments to our state’s transportation fund and continue our commitment to strengthening the State’s roadways. Broadband expansion is a huge priority of mine. To that end, this budget adds $125 million for broadband expansion grants. Along with the Federal and private sector investments in broadband, Wisconsin will see huge improvements that will connect our residents and businesses, all across the state. This budget will benefit all Wisconsinites by investing in our priorities, returning money to the people that earned it, and making sure Wisconsin is set up for success for years to come. This budget is a win for everyone in the State and I am looking forward to it getting the Governor’s signature”

Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac)

“I am deeply disappointed the Republicans chose to throw away an opportunity to address our state’s generational needs, and fund the kind of recovery our state needs. Our neighbors just suffered through the worst pandemic in a century. At a time where there are funds to address the foundational problems that exacerbate the disparities in our state, this budget misses the opportunity. Denying resources to those who struggled and sacrificed the most, is like dancing in a graveyard. Not funding the kids, teachers, and education professionals who sacrificed so much to make last year work is shameful. Our children deserve better; they deserve legislators who will fight for them. Governor Evers’ proposed budget, could not take into account the additional $2.3 billion in federal aid because we did not know we would get those funds. I’m certain Governor Evers would invest the additional funding to bump up education funding, special education reimbursements, and mental health services. Passing a budget without taking this unprecedented influx of funds into consideration is like leaving a bag of groceries in your cart in the store parking lot. With the $4.4 billion surplus and the $2.3 billion in federal aid, we could accomplish bold initiatives that would guarantee we build back better than before the pandemic. We could fully fund Pre-K for our children, increase the special education reimbursement rate to 60%, and restore our historic two-thirds funding commitment for schools. Education is a top priority of our neighbors, it should be a top priority in our budget too. Instead of ensuring working Wisconsinites earn a salary they can live on, or have access to affordable health care, Republicans are balancing the budget on the backs of our neighbors living paycheck-to-paycheck. They would rather cut the wealthy’s taxes than grant over 90,000 Wisconsinites at 138% of the poverty line affordable health care or capture for our state $1.6 billion in federal funding. The budget makes conservative politics clear: they are focused on helping the wealthy few over you. As Republicans pursue their extreme partisan agenda, they are putting Wisconsin prosperity at real risk and leaving working and middle-class families behind. Instead of properly funding education, they’re offering Chuck-E-Cheese tokens to our schools and children. Governor Evers’ budget offered us a step forward out of this pandemic, the budget that Republicans forced through the legislature would drag us backward. I voted no on this underwhelming budget, and I hope that the Governor will also reject this anemic proposal with his veto pen. The future of Wisconsin is on the line.”

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)

“Overall, this was a good budget for Wisconsin’s 2nd Senate District. I was happy to see many necessary investments made in the budget, including more money for nursing homes, treatment and diversion projects, local roads, emergency medical services and law enforcement, State Parks, and more – all while affording a much-deserved tax cut to Wisconsin’s middle class, producing one of the lowest structural deficits I’ve seen in a budget, and putting more money aside for a rainy day in state government. Despite the myriad of positive items in this budget, some around the margins while others being much more substantial, I am still somewhat concerned about our K-12 and higher education investments. While the influx of federal funds could represent a noticeable surge of cash to these institutions, the reimbursement requirements and strings attached leaves challenges for school districts and higher education campuses that could have been resolved with just a little better investment. Despite this downside in the 2021-23 State Budget, I do believe that what I’ve seen in federal guidance and in actions from school districts and higher education campuses seeking reimbursement thus far show promising signs that this system will work. When balancing those thoughts with the long list of positive items in the now passed budget, I determined a yes vote was the logical conclusion.”

Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay)

“It has been wonderful to engage with my constituents at meetings and budget listening sessions throughout the 1st Senate District, and to work with my colleagues to make an impact for our area and the entire state.”

Senator Andre Jacque (R-De Pere)

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