Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is accusing some Senate Republicans of holding the state hostage with their opposition to the state budget.
The Senate is scheduled to debate the budget this morning, even though Republicans do not appear to have the 17 votes needed to pass the plan. At least four GOP senators have said they oppose the bill, putting the party one vote short of getting the overdue state budget through to the governor’s desk.
Of those four, three released changes they want to see made. The list from Senators Duey Stroebel, Steve Nass, and Chris Kapenga calls for moving up the implementation date for a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law, eliminating funding for diversity training on University of Wisconsin campuses, and raising income limits on the state’s private school voucher program. A spokesman for Stroebel called it a “list of conservative reforms supported by both chambers.”
Vos pushed back against the demands though, calling it a “ransom list” from lawmakers who couldn’t get their way during budget negotiations. The speaker singled out the higher voucher caps as something his members supported, which was removed by the Senate. “That’s not the way this process works,” Vos said. “You don’t hold people hostage for an individual item that you weren’t successful in convincing your own caucus to go along with.”
Vos called on the Senate to pass the budget, which cleared the Assembly earlier this week, without making any additional changes. If they do pass any amendments, he warned it would likely delay passage of the budget until October – since his members are not coming back next week and he is taking the last two weeks of September off to get married and go on his honeymoon. “We’re not coming back any time soon,” Vos warned.
The Senate is currently scheduled to debate the budget this morning, although it remains unclear if Republicans have the votes they need in time for a scheduled 9:30 a.m. start. A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said he remains “optimistic” about the chances of the budget passing.