The stage appears set for a battle over budget repair. State Senate Democrats vote next week on their budget repair bill — and that might mean a summer of haggling with Assembly Republicans. “I'm going to do everything possible to prevent that,” says Monona Democrat Mark Miller. Miller chairs the Senate finance committee, which passed the plan Thursday on a 6-2 vote. “The budget repair proposal . . . takes elements of the governor's proposal, takes elements of the Assembly proposal, and it's a clear demonstration that we're commited to a fair and responsible response to the budget shortfall.”
But the plan passed by the committee raises taxes on hospitals, the so-called hospital assessment, which Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch remains opposed to. “It brings in an extra $400 million,” says Miller, adding that Huebsch is “going out on a limb” in opposing the assesment, which has the backing of the Wisconsin Hospitals Association and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. In a statement, Huebsch says the budget repair passed by the Assembly last week protects taxpayers by cutting government spending, and that tax increases proposed by the Senate Democrats take state government in the wrong direction.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the plan to address the state's $650 million dollar revenue shortfall on Tuesday. Miller says he hopes an Assembly-Senate committee can then get to work quickly, to resolve differences between the two chambers.