Senate to Take Up Budget Today

The Wisconsin Senate will take up AB 40, the 2013-15 biennial budget proposal today, Thursday, June 20. Livestream coverage is available on WisconsinEye.

In a surprise move yesterday, Assembly Democrats chose not to offer any of the more than 200 amendments they had drafted, and instead allowed a quick vote on the proposal. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said his party decided to abandon the motions in favor of a swift vote because he had been told by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) that any Democratic motions would be rejected. Five Republicans did not vote for the bill — three voted against it and two abstained from voting.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said his party does not plan to make changes to the bill and expects it to pass easily. Democrats would need at least two Republicans to join them to defeat the proposal. Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) has expressed concern about portions of the budget, including the provision to force the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism off campus, but he has not said publicly he will vote against the bill. Other moderate Republicans have said they intend to vote for the budget.

The bill will go to Governor Scott Walker if passed by the Senate unchanged. The governor is expected to sign the bill by July 1, but he enjoys wide veto powers and could make substantial changes through a line-item veto.