After a more than 24-hour delay, the Assembly started debate late Wednesday afternoon on the proposed state budget. The floor session on the bill is expected to last through the night.
Democrats went on the attack quickly, arguing the $66 billion budget plan will hurt middle class families, cut education, and limit the ability of local governments to provide services. All while providing billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations.
State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) says the plan pits the “CEOs against the Average Joes,” with everything in the budget designed to benefit the “haves” while punishing the “have-nots.”
Madison Democrat Mark Pocan argued the state would lose $2.3 billion in revenue over the next decade, based on a number of tax breaks and other tax code changes included in the budget. Pocan says those are nothing more than “gifts to special interests.”
Democrats have drafted a number of amendments to the plan, which include efforts to stop $1.6 billion in cuts to education, restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, and removing a number of tax exemptions.
Republican Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) accused Democrats of just trying to stir up class warfare, arguing that their last state budget abandoned the middle class. Fitzgerald says Democrats increased spending during the worst recession in 80 years and raised taxes on families across the state.
Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) says it’s an honest budget that puts Wisconsin back on firm financial footing without raising taxes and fees on working families.
After spending over two hours making opening statements, lawmakers moved on to the first of several amendments to the budget plan that will be taken up through the night.