A Republican effort to delete policy from the state budget was turned back at the Capitol Thursday. State Senator Luther Olsen made the pitch, as minority Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee offered an amendment to delete 40 policy items from Governor Jim Doyle's proposed spending plan. “I'm asking today that the majority party take out this non fiscal policy and run it through your committees,” Olsen said. “I may not vote for it if you do it that way, but at least the public will have say, and can come and talk about those issues.”
But committee co-chair, Representative Mark Pocan , questioned the whole idea of whether or not policy items legitimately belong in the budget. “I just want to set the myth straight, and I hope the people who believe in UFOs and Bigfoot aren't upset . . . but to say that somehow we put policy into the budget is a myth.” Pocan said every budget item carries some sort of fiscal impact. “I'll bet you in this room if there's a hundred people, there's a hundred different opinions on what's in the budget, and what's policy and what's not, so that's a very subjective criteria. What the chairs of the committee decided to do was to err on the side of allowing this committee to have the maximum amount of input.” State Representative Robin Vos made note of that remark from Pocan. “I want to err on the side of allowing the entire legislature to decide,” Vos said. “I don't think that only the sixteen people who are allowed to serve on the Joint Finance Committee are the only bright people in the legislature.”
“You (Democrats) have the power, you can run the table, you're going to get the votes to get it done way or another,” said Olsen. “I just believe that it is good government when it goes through the process of both houses, both committees. Because as we know in this business, the longer you're here, there's a lot of things we don't understand. We can make mistakes.”
Items the GOP amendment included the statewide smoking ban, elimination of the QEO for teacher salaries, and revised standards for Milwaukee Choice schools. The amendment failed on a partisan 12-3 vote.