Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Senate passes budget by a 17-16 vote

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
News Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Wisconsin senators voted 17-16 just after midnight to approve the same version of the new state budget that the Assembly passed on Wednesday. Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz joined all Democrats in voting no. The Senate’s debate lasted 12 hours, as majority Republicans struck down a number of Democratic amendments, and did not consider others. Early in the afternoon, eight protestors were removed after they almost reached the Senate floor to challenge the recent bill which requires abortion candidates to get ultra-sounds. When it came time for the budget vote, Milwaukee Democrat Tim Carpenter used a procedural move to block passage until the next day. G-O-P leaders called the Senate back at 12:01 a-m for its final action. The two-year package now goes to Governor Scott Walker. He can use his line-item veto power to trim it down, but the Republican governor has already expressed support for the key items in the package – including an income tax cut almost twice as much as he first proposed. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

The budget also includes an expansion of private school choice, the return of bail bondsmen, easing residency restrictions for public employees, the ability to sell state buildings to private parties, making able-bodied people find jobs for their food stamps, and having police collect D-N-A from felony suspects not convicted yet. Senate Republican Alberta Darling said the budget builds on the G-O-P’s plans when they took control of state government in 2011. She said the state’s definitely better off now than it was two years ago. Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach said the state’s worse off. La Crosse Democrat Jennifer Shilling called the G-O-P budget a “roadmap to mediocrity.” 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

State public school Superintendent Tony Evers is upset about a little-noticed budget amendment added by the Assembly. He says it could expand the private school choice program a lot more than we’ve been told. The amendment would let private schools that are already participating in the Milwaukee and Racine programs take low-income students from anywhere in the state, without counting toward their enrollment caps. Evers and Democratic voucher opponents say it could lead to the Milwaukee and Racine districts setting up satellite schools throughout Wisconsin, thus negating any enrollment limits. In Evers’ words, “That would make a separate system of publicly-funded private schools.” Voucher supporters did not believe it would happen. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said Evers could decide whether each proposed satellite school would be subject to the enrollment limits. But the way the language is written, Evers believes he would have no choice but to approve them. He says his agency’s lawyers are looking into it. School choice lobbyists said they had nothing to do with the measure. The voucher program would be expanded statewide on a limited basis. It’s listed as having enrollment limits of 500 students outside of Milwaukee and Racine next fall, and a thousand students the next year. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says the panel will soon weigh its options, after a new five-year Farm Bill was rejected yesterday. The Wisconsin delegation voted 5-3 against the package, which lost on a House vote of 234-to-195. Republicans Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble, and Tom Petri were the only Badger State representatives to vote yes. Many in the GOP majority said a proposed two-billion-dollar cut in the federal food stamp program was not enough. Democrats said the last straw was when Republicans voted to let states require recipients to work for their food aid. Some lawmakers – like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson – say food stamps should be taken out of the Farm Bill, so agriculture programs like federal subsidies could be debated on their own merits. Lawmakers added food stamps to the Farm Bill a number of years ago to attract votes from urban representatives – but with the hyper-partisanship in today’s politics, that’s gone out the window. Also, Minnesota’s Collin Peterson – the senior Democrat on the Ag committee – said his party was turned off when a proposed market stabilization program for the dairy industry was scrapped. Committee chair Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said before the vote that if the Farm Bill didn’t pass, he could not guarantee an alternative package would come back. A new Farm Bill was due last fall – and when it didn’t pass then, the old package of farm-and-food-stamp programs was extended for another year. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A more comprehensive poverty index shows that Wisconsin is doing better than what the federal government says – but the 2011 poverty rate was still higher than the year before. A U-W Madison institute said 10-point-seven percent of Wisconsinites were in poverty, down from 10-point-three the previous year. Washington had put the figure at 13-percent. The U-W said there was a larger increase in child poverty to 12-point-two percent – a jump of almost a point-and-a-half. The university’s survey takes more factors into account than the federal poverty estimates, which are based only on pre-tax income. The U-W’s numbers also reflect things like people’s medical, transportation, and child care expenses – plus the effect of tax-funded programs for the poor like Food-Share and Badger-Care. The report blames the increasing poverty on lower family incomes, plus changes in assistance programs. The U-W’s Timothy Smeeding said Wisconsin’s public aid programs are doing a good job – but not as good as in 2010. He said state officials should be wary about cutting those programs back too much.A more comprehensive poverty index shows that Wisconsin is doing better than what the federal government says – but the 2011 poverty rate was still higher than the year before. A U-W Madison institute said 10-point-seven percent of Wisconsinites were in poverty, down from 10-point-three the previous year. Washington had put the figure at 13-percent. The U-W said there was a larger increase in child poverty to 12-point-two percent – a jump of almost a point-and-a-half. The university’s survey takes more factors into account than the federal poverty estimates, which are based only on pre-tax income. The U-W’s numbers also reflect things like people’s medical, transportation, and child care expenses – plus the effect of tax-funded programs for the poor like Food-Share and Badger-Care. The report blames the increasing poverty on lower family incomes, plus changes in assistance programs. The U-W’s Timothy Smeeding said Wisconsin’s public aid programs are doing a good job – but not as good as in 2010. He said state officials should be wary about cutting those programs back too much.

Advertisement
Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness