State Government and Political Roundup: Gov. Walker to submit his budget tonightWisconsin News
-- Governor Scott Walker will submit his budget proposals for the next two years today.
MADISON - Governor Scott Walker will submit his budget proposals for the next two years today.
He’ll talk about the highlights in a speech to the Legislature tonight at seven. Walker has already unveiled many of his major initiatives. And some will be very controversial as the Legislature considers amendments to the governor’s package through the end of June.
Democrats want some of a proposed two-percent income tax cut to go to education instead. Health care advocacy groups got nervous after Walker rejected an increase in federal Medicaid funds. He decided instead to place recipients above the poverty level into the new federal insurance purchasing exchanges, where coverage can be had for as low as $19 a month. Walker also made waves by proposing an expansion of private school vouchers for low-income students in nine more Wisconsin school districts including Madison and Green Bay – and to put more special needs’ children in private schools. Some of Walker’s own Republican senators rejected the school choice package, saying people in the affected communities should agree to it first. The governor also proposed an extra half-billion dollars for transportation – with a faster payback for borrowing by selling off state-owned power-and-heating plants. Walker also wants an extra $100-million for various efforts to boost the state’s workforce. He also proposed more funding for cancer treatment. And yesterday, Walker proposed $43-million for veterans’ services that include an expanded property tax credit, and an extra five-million for the Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack and Marquette law professor Ed Fallone easily won the only statewide primary yesterday. With all but one-percent of the vote counted, Roggensack had 64-percent, and Fallone 30-percent. Milwaukee Lemon Law attorney Vince Megna was eliminated with six-percent – and the primary winners will square off in the April second general election. Roggensack said her showing proves that experience makes a difference in judicial races. Her campaign highlights her 17 years as a judge, including the last 10 on the state’s highest court. Fallone and Megna both vowed to bring harmony to the court, and end the dysfunction that has resulted in internal squabbles which culminated in Justice David Prosser’s reported choke-hold on fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in 2011. Although the court’s supposed to be non-partisan, Roggensack’s big showing was clearly a victory for Republicans as they try to maintain the court’s four-member conservative majority. Fallone is backed by Democrats and labor unions – and he admits he’ll have an uphill battle in his April contest against Roggensack. Megna declared himself as a Democrat and says he’ll back Fallone.
It’s still not clear who will win a state Assembly seat for part of Waukesha County. The top two Republican finishers are separated by just 30 votes out of more than five-thousand cast. Five GOP candidates ran yesterday, with no Democratic opposition for the general election in April. Window cleaning business owner Adam Neylon had 2,003, to 1,973 for Pewaukee Police Chief Ed Baumann. Each had 38-percent after all the ballots were counted. Baumann can ask for a recount within three days after an official canvass takes place. Former lieutenant governor chief-of-staff Jeanne Tarantino was a distant third with 15-percent. Matt Morzy and Todd Greenwald each shared less than 10-percent of the vote. The winner of the Assembly seat will replace Todd Farrow, who was elected to the Senate in a special balloting in December.
Money was not a huge factor in yesterday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court primary – and it remains to be seen whether that will change for the general election. Challenger Ed Fallone says he hopes it won’t. Special interest groups have pumped millions into a few recent Supreme Court contests. And Fallone – a professor at Marquette University – says people quote, “don’t want to see an election that is bought and paid for.” Roggensack and Fallone advanced to the April ballot, while attorney Vince Megna was eliminated in yesterday’s primary. Roggensack raised a modest quarter-million-dollars for her primary bid, enough to buy a TV ad before the primary. The conservative Club for Growth also bought an ad which highlighted Roggensack’s main campaign theme – that she has 17 years of experience as a judge, and numerous judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs have endorsed her. Fallone only raised about a third of what Roggensack did, but he managed to get on TV as well. He said he would continue to highlight the Supreme Court’s dysfunction and internal bickering of recent years, and promote himself as a vehicle for settling things down. Roggensack says things are getting better. And she shouldn’t have to lose her job because of what other justices have done – namely the 2011 physical spat between David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley.
Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to give their final approval today to a constitutional amendment that prevents the transportation fund from being raided for other things. Both houses approved the measure in the last session, and the Assembly gave its second approval last week on an 82-13 vote. If the Senate passes the amendment, it will go to the voters for final ratification in November of 2014. Republicans proposed the measure after former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle used $1.3 billion dollars in gas taxes and DOT user fees to prop up public schools and other programs. Critics say the state’s other designated funds should be protected in the same way as the transportation fund. One Democrat says it’s “ridiculous” to prevent raids from one fund and not others.