Compromise on a state budget may finally be on the horizon. Democrats have taken their Healthy Wisconsin plan off the table, but Republicans like state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald don't like the rest of the offer, which includes items such as taxes on hospitals and cigarettes. Fitzgerald and other Republicans on the budget conference committee questioned the legitimacy of the offer. "I thought there was a breakthrough," said Fitzgerald . "I thought you'd pulled it off the table, and great. But even if you had pulled it off the table, whoopty doo. You just saved yourself from yourself." Healthy Wisconsin is the Democrats' universal healthcare plan, and a key component of the budget they passed in the state Senate. It would be financed by a $15 billion payroll tax.
Republican Rep. Kitty Rhoades also slammed the offer from the Democrats: "in order for you to remove Healthy Wisconsin, which should not have been in the budget in the first place, we're supposed to accept a hospital tax, a cigarette tax, a nursing home bed tax increase, and another raid on the patient compensation fund."
Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson said this is a legitimate offer from Democrats . "Now that we removed the big boogyman that you said is holding up the budget process . . . now we can move forward," said Robson. "The ball's in your court. We can get this budget done." Robson asked Republicans on the budget committee to consider the Democrats' offer over the weekend. Also Friday, Governor Jim Doyle announced that he'll meet the budget committee co-chairs, Robson and Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch , at the executive mansion on Monday.