The state Assembly was expected to start debating the proposed state budget Tuesday. However, lawmakers ended up going home after spending almost seven hours waiting for a crucial amendment from Republicans.
Both Republicans and Democrats appeared ready to start Tuesday’s floor session on time at 11 a.m., but the beginning of the debate on the $70 billion spending plan kept getting pushed back. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said drafting issues were holding up the final version of a technical amendment, which Democrats wanted to vote on before proposing their own changes. With both parties still needing to be briefed on the measure, Vos says they agreed to break for the night at around 6 p.m. Tuesday, with the debate expected to officially get underway at about 9:30 this morning.
Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) was critical of the GOP for scheduling the start of the budget debate without having their amendment ready to go and says members were “frustrated” by the delays.
A draft version of the technical amendment shows over two dozen changes to the budget bill. It includes several revisions to the private school voucher program, removing a cap on a property tax credit for veterans, and delaying the start of new rules on high capacity wells. Speaker Vos says the amendment contains the only changes being considered by Republicans, and will likely make it so the budget bill can pass in both the Assembly and Senate without further revisions.
Despite Democrats also having over 200 of their own amendments ready to go after the technical amendment is voted on, Republicans say they still plan to wrap up debate on the budget bill and take a final vote by about 5:30 this evening.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett (1:01)