Wisconsin’s overdue state budget passed a major hurdle at the Capitol Wednesday, although the plan continues to face an uncertain future.
The Assembly passed the plan, which is now more than two months late, just before midnight on a 57-39 vote. All Democrats voted against the bill, with five Republicans joining them – Representatives Scott Allen (R-Waukesha), Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Bob Gannon (R-West Bend), Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake), and Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin).
The vote followed nearly 11 hours of debate, which saw more than a dozen amendments from Democrats rejected by majority Republicans. Democratic lawmakers repeatedly attacked the $76 billion spending plan as being “rigged” against working families. “You have rigged this system so poorly, and slanted it against the working people of this state,” argued Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).
Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) defended the budget plan as fiscally responsible and something Republicans can be proud of. “If this Legislature does nothing else for the balance of the session, we have accomplished our most important task,” Vos said.
The plan now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has indicated he still does not have the 17 votes needed to pass it. The Juneau Republican told reporters Wednesday that he has “five or six” members who have concerns about the plan.
Fitzgerald said it’s still his hope to bring the budget to the floor for a vote on Friday morning, although making any changes to the plan could prove difficult now that the Assembly has passed it. Vos said repeatedly Wednesday that the Assembly would not be back next week to take up any changes to the plan and accused some senators of holding the Legislature hostage.
Senate Republicans were expected to meet in a closed door caucus Thursday, as they try to rally the votes needed to bring the budget to the floor.