How voters should judge the budget - GOP, Dem lawmakers weigh in on what budget will bring
Written by Robert Mentzer, Stevens Point Journal Media
Gov. Scott Walker signed the 2013-15 biennial budget Sunday in Pleasant Prairie. The document, which not only funds state government for the next two years but also contains numerous policy changes and a $676 million income tax cut, naturally is controversial, given the lock Wisconsin Republicans have on both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion.
The Daily Herald Media Editorial Board recently met separately with groups of Democratic and Republican members of the state Assembly for wide-ranging discussions of the budget’s fiscal and policy choices. Following are edited transcripts of their answers to one of the questions posed, which was what measurable effects voters can expect to see as a result of what’s contained in the biennial budget.
Republicans: Low taxes, more growth
Mary Czaja, R-Tomahawk: One of the things that’s very large in my district is property taxes being held flat, or as flat as possible. The idea is to hold them to 1 percent (increases). That is very important to my people. Another thing is the job growth that we’re starting to see in this district, to move forward with that, with businesses having the confidence to invest and keep going.
In a four-year time period, $2 billion is being invested into Medicaid to keep it solvent. We as a society need to think about how that’s going to be made sustainable. That was done in this budget, balancing it and giving some money back to the taxpayer. Whether we agree with how the tax relief was done or not, when that money does come back — maybe it will only be the equivalent of a night out with the family, but it’s local spending, and that is an impact for the economy.
The last thing I’ll say is (that the budget will help) the increase in tourism. We put more money into the Tourism Department, and that is going to bring more money in.
John Spiros, R-Marshfield: One thing that is important from my standpoint is that we did not add government jobs. I commend the Joint Finance Committee on (not filling open government jobs in the budget).