Remember on Tuesday when I mentioned that “fireworks” were going to
happen in the Legislature as the budget debate continues? Well, that
joke became a little too real on Wednesday when the entire State Capitol
was evacuated because of a bomb threat right in the middle of the
Assembly’s debate on the budget. Thanks to the Capitol Police, the
building was secured and everything is safe. Only the Assembly went a
little late last night as we tried to make up the two hours we lost
during the evacuation.
After hours of debate, the Assembly passed the budget. We had a chance
in this budget to reaffirm our commitment to K-12 education and to help
our public schools continue their important work of educating future
generations. I really wanted the opportunity to work with my colleagues
of the majority party to create a budget that accurately reflects the
common sense values of Western Wisconsin, particularly in regard to
education. I heard from teachers, superintendents, parents, and school
board members who all expressed their concerns.
Unfortunately, even uncontroversial amendments that we offered were
simply rejected out of hand.
We introduced an amendment to allow young people with student loan debt
to refinance their loans just like people with a mortgage, but it was
defeated. We introduced a package of amendments that would bring much
needed reform to the struggling Wisconsin Economic Development
Corporation (WEDC), but they were defeated.
We pushed for Wisconsin to finally take the federal Medicaid dollars
that we have paid in so that we could expand BadgerCare and use the
money to help fund so many important programs that were cut under the
budget (like K-12 education and the UW System). But this was defeated.
We tried to keep our state from charging our road construction costs to
the credit card, but this was defeated. We argued to restore local
control to our communities where our local officials are closer to the
people, but this was defeated.
We introduced a number of proposals designed to undo the harm to public
education, from restoring the current teacher licensing requirements and
limiting the use of vouchers to indexing school funding to inflation and
holding all schools that receive public funding to the same standards of
accountability. But I guess you know where I’m going with this one. They
were all defeated.
It’s a sad day in Wisconsin when we can’t even come together for the
best interest of our children. Because of my commitment to protecting
quality education in Wisconsin, I had no choice but to vote against this
budget. I joined every Democrat and 11 Republicans in doing so.
So where does that leave us now? A little sleep deprived to be honest.
I’ve heard from a lot of people in the last 48 hours expressing their
frustration that there is nothing more to be done to try to fix some of
the most harmful aspects of the budget. There is one more step left in
the budget process – the Governor. Wisconsin’s Governor has broad veto
powers that he can use to strike passages or even phrases before he
signs it into law.
I urge you to contact the Governor with your thoughts on the budget –
things you like and things you don’t like.
Office of the Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
After 156 days and 15 budget updates, things are winding down in the
State Capitol. We will be in recess until the September floor period.
During this break, my colleagues and I will be getting back to the work
of regular legislation: drafting bills, helping our constituents, and
ensuring that our state continues to be a wonderful place to live.
This budget did not include even a few sprinklings of bipartisanship
that I had hoped it would but that does not mean that I am done fighting
for you down in Madison. I’ll be hard at work every day and I encourage
you to reach out to me if you have a question, problem or opinion on any
state issue. My door is always open.
This might be the last of my budget updates and I’ll go back to sending
out monthly updates. I’ve enjoyed getting to put these together to help
you understand this complicated and ever changing budget process and I’m
grateful to many of you who have responded to these updates.