With the Wisconsin state Assembly set to begin budget deliberations, Democrats in the Senate are seeking Republican support for changes they believe should be made in the state’s spending plan. State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) on Monday extended an invitation to moderate Republicans in the Senate, asking them to oppose the budget as approved by the Joint Finance Committee. Larson thinks there’s an opening, with GOP members like Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay).
“There’s been a lot of verbiage by these more moderate Republicans, when they’re talking to their press and talking to their constituents,” said Larson. “It’s a matter of if they are just saying that, or if they actually want to vote that way if we take the budget up on Thursday,” The Assembly is scheduled to begin budget debate today and could have its work completed in time for the Senate to take it up Thursday.
Schultz does have a laundry list of things he believes can be improved in the budget. “I haven’t been coy. I’ve listed a lot of things where I think considerable improvement can be made, and I know Senator Cowles has done the same,” he said. “I think that’s the way it should be.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, (R-Juneau) said there will be a technical amendment in the Assembly to make small changes before the bill moves to the Senate, with the goal of keeping the finance committee’s version intact. ”That’s our goal right now,” Fitzgerald told WISC. “I’d like to know everything will go just as planned, but sometimes it doesn’t.”
While Democrats and Schultz think the budget can be improved in the Senate, any changes made there would then have to go back to the Assembly – where they would likely be a tough sell among more conservative Republicans in that chamber.
Governor Scott Walker downplayed the prospect of any significant changes to the budget approved by the Joint Committee on Finance. “There may be some tweaks, there’s a couple of issues with things that Senator Cowles has,” Walker said. “I think those are things we could more than accommodate and work through, but I don’t think you’re going to see a substantive change.”