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  Understanding the Budget Process Week by Week

September 19, 2017

The Budget Passes

 State Rep. Steve Doyle

State Capitol
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0631
(888) 534-0094


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There’s been a lot of activity down in Madison these past weeks.


The 999 Motion

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During their last day of voting on the budget, the Joint Finance Committee passed their 999 motion – the wrap up motion that has a tendency to include pork projects and other proposals that might not pass the legislature on their own. But the co-chairs of the committee didn’t call it a 999 motion (each motion is numbered to help the committee members keep track). They called it a 421.

Most of the pet projects and special interest provisions worked their way into the budget through earlier budget motions, leaving the 421 motion with more technical changes to the budget rather than huge changes. Some non-technical changes included tax breaks for broadcasters, video games, fish farmers and beekeepers. There was also an audit of family planning clinics and limitations on standards for charter schools in the motion.

Some other provisions in the 421 include:

  • $5 million for the La Crosse Center
  • $5 million for the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care in Milwaukee
  • $5 million for a science and technology center in Green Bay
  • $4 million for the Wisconsin Rapids airport
  • $3.2 million for harbor work in Door County
  • $1.7 million for the Appleton International Airport
  • $1 million for a campground and marina in Iron County

The 421 motion was passed by the JFC on a party-line vote on September 6th.

The Assembly Votes 
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The Assembly met last week on Wednesday to finally vote on the $76 billion state budget after an almost three month delay. It was a long day of debate but the proposal finally passed on a split vote of 57-39. Five Republicans and all the Democrats voted against the budget.

As the Assembly was voting, the Senate Majority Leader told the press that he didn’t think he had enough votes to pass the bill. 17 votes were needed in the Senate and even with his party holding 20 seats, he was concerned about what it would take to get the rest of his colleagues on board. Four of them even released a “list of demands” of what they wanted changed in the budget before they would vote for it. Some people started to worry that the version of the budget that the Senate would vote on would be different from what the Assembly had voted on.

Now why would this be a problem? Well, the Senate and the Assembly have to pass identical versions of the bill – if they don’t, one house would need to come back into session to pass the other’s version before it can go to the Governor’s desk to be signed. If neither house is willing to pass the other’s version, the leaders of the Senate and Assembly call for a “conference committee” where they hammer out the details until they have a bill that will pass both houses.

So for a little while there, it looked like we might be at another deadlock. But by Friday afternoon when the Senate voted, three of the four opposed senators had agreed to vote for the budget.


The Senate Votes 
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In order to secure the votes of the three opposed senators, a deal was negotiated with the Governor to veto certain provisions in the Assembly version of the budget. The bill passed 19-14 (with one Republican voting against) with the promise that the Governor would use his broad line-item veto powers to:


  1. Change the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage to take effect immediately
  2. Delete a $2.5 million study on the possibility of toll roads in Wisconsin,
  3. Limit the dates of school district referendums to only regularly scheduled primary and general election days.

While the three senators and the Governor have disclosed the terms of the deal publicly, we will have to wait until the Governor signs the bill to see what gets the final cut.


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In addition to the budget, both houses of the Legislature approved the $3 billion incentive package for Foxconn. Now, you might be thinking “wait a minute, Steve. Didn’t the Assembly already pass Foxconn?” Well, you are right. But do you remember what I wrote above about how both houses need to pass the same version of the bill?

It turns out that after the Assembly voted in August, the Joint Finance Committee took up the Foxconn bill to make changes of their own. Then on Tuesday, the Senate added an amendment that made a more changes to the bill, which meant the Assembly had to vote on it again. So after being on the floor until 11 pm on Wednesday, we were back on the floor at 11 am on Thursday.

Both Foxconn and the budget bill are likely to be signed by the Governor soon and when that happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

With the budget all but concluded, I will be switching back to my monthly e-update schedule. Let me know if there are topics you want to learn more about or if you have any questions about this update or any others. My office is always open.


Until next time,



State Representative
94th Assembly District