The state budget may be through the legislative process by the end of the day Thursday. After a surprising strategy by Assembly Democrats, who offered no amendments Wednesday prior to voting unanimously against the budget, action moves to the Senate. There, moderate Republican Dale Schultz is apparently a ‘no’ vote, and Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) will try to peel off one more Republican to oppose the two-year, $70 billion dollar spending plan.
“There’s a little bit more of chance, especially with the comments that Senator Schultz has made towards this budget,” Larson said. “It puts it within one vote. I’ll be bringing a welcome mat with me . . . and seeing if we can get another Republican to join us in voting for a budget that helps Wisconsin move forward.”
Larson seems to think Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) can be persuaded to oppose the budget – but Cowles was indicating Wednesday afternoon that he’s on board. “Obviously there’s some things in there that I’m not happy about, but you have to look at the whole thing as an entire package, and it’s clearly yes,” said Cowles. “It’s an imperfect product, but it basically subscribes to Republican conservative principles, and I like that.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) doesn’t expect any additional defections from his caucus. “I never like to assume anything, but I think we’re in real good shape right now,” he said.
While Assembly action was over almost before it began, that doesn’t look be the case in the Senate. Democrats have prepared numerous amendments and Larson and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald predict a lengthy debate. Cowles said he expected Democrats to offer about 40 amendments in daylong debate. Larson wouldn’t be pinned down, as to how many amendments his caucus will offer. “That would just give away the drama, wouldn’t it? If you’re looking to get done by happy hour, I don’t think that’s going to happen,”