Budget breakdown: Gov. Walker optimistic with spending plan, Democrats remain disappointed
By Kevin Carr, WSAW News
THREE LAKES, Wis. (WSAW) -- As the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate prepare to vote on the $76 billion dollar plan over the next two years, Gov. Scott Walker is optimistic, but
Wisconsin Democrats are frustrated.
After the Joint Finance Committee passed the budget along party lines Wednesday, Walker is pleased a boost in education funding is intact.
"It will be the highest level of K through 12 funding in the history of the state," Walker said.
The governor discussed the budget while touring Three Lakes High School's Fab Lab facilities -- small scale workshops with computer-controlled tools. According to the Three Lakes School District, Fab Labs emphasize problem solving, job creating and invention. Walker says the budget would also invest more money into these facilities.
"We think that's incredibly important both for student success, as well as building a strong workforce," Walker explained.
The spending plan also includes freezing tuition at UW System schools. When it comes to the issue of road funding, the gas tax would be left as is. Republicans are instead opting to borrow $400 million and raise fees on electric and hybrid vehicles -- much to the disappointment of many Wisconsin Democrats.
"There's way too much of a reliance on bonding, and we do not have a good transportation funding solution in place," Stevens Point Democratic Representative Katrina Shankland said.
Shankland points out that the budget is more than two months overdue. She also says the spending plan for the state lacks bipartisanship.
"I think there was a lot of opportunity to work together to do good things," Shankland explained. "And at the end of the day, this budget leaves a lot up to chance when we could have done better for our roads, our schools and our infrastructure."
Walker says he has started a veto review on the budget.
"My guess is there won't be large changes next week if any, and that we'll have a pretty good idea by the time we get back next weekend as to what to veto on and what to keep intact," Walker explained.
The Assembly will vote on the budget next week.