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Senate passes budget

MADISON (WKOW) -- The state Senate approved the state budget Friday morning, about 14 hours after debate began on Thursday.

The measure passed on a 17-16 vote. Sen. Dale Schultz was the only Republican to vote against the plan.

It now heads to Gov. Scott Walker's desk. He has not commented on what he may veto, if anything at all.

Senators were scheduled to vote on the budget around 10:15 p.m. Thursday, but Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee objected to a third reading of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald motioned to adjourn until 12:01 a.m. Friday.

During debate earlier in the day, Republicans tabled every amendment proposed by Democrats.

The $70 billion spending plan includes an income tax cut, an expansion of the school voucher program and rejects a federal expansion of Medicaid.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Nearly 40 amendments put forth by Democrats to change the state budget have been met with strong resistance by Republicans in the Senate so far.

The Senate is expected to pass the Assembly version of the budget tonight, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker's desk for a signature.

Republicans have already said no to a Democratic amendment aimed at job creation and to another that would have saved UW-Madison's relationship with the Center for Investigative Journalism.

Senate Democrats started the day by saying the Republican budget simply doesn't do enough to create jobs.

"We heard the rhetoric last session that we were gonna focus like a laser on jobs, but then somehow the laser got pointed at women's uterus's and everything else," said Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point).

While no Republicans supported the Democrats job creation changes, one was very supportive of several others. Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) joined Democrats on a number of measures.

"Without these amendments, I cannot support the bill which is before us today, because its too far removed from representing the interests of the common men and women I represent," said Sen. Schultz.

One would have saved the Center for Investigative Journalism's arrangement to have office space at UW-Madison and work with students and faculty there.

"But because the Center broke the story about the recent Supreme Court...couple of Supreme Court justices not getting along, let's boot them off campus. I don't know what that does for Wisconsin's economy. I don't know what that does to create a job," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

"We are not muzzling them. Nobody is gonna prevent Bill Lueders from continuing to investigate things," said Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend). "And I hope he does investigate things. I hope he will because I see there's enough independent money coming in outside of the UW that I think he will."

Bill Lueders is one of the Center's reporters.

But that and every other non-fiscal policy item will stay in the budget, which Republicans say not only cuts taxes, but funds health care and schools.

"The two most driving factors of our budget were Medicaid and education," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). "Those were the two components that got the most new investment. And I'm very proud of that."

The Senate has also struck down a number of amendments aimed at abolishing a statewide school choice expansion.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Senate takes up the state budget at the Capitol.

Democrats are set to announce the amendments to the budget that weren't introduced in the Assembly on Wednesday.

Democrats will offer amendments, especially in the areas of the budget that involve school choice and medicaid expansion. The Senate will be in session at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

The Assembly passed the budget on Wednesday after Assembly democrats decided not to offer any of the 200 plus amendments. The Assembly voted after one hour on the floor. The republicans passed their $70 billion dollar budget without any resistance.

The budget passed 55 to 42. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he was shocked at the democrat's political move, but he's confident the Assembly version of the budget will pass the Senate on Thursday.

On the other hand, Senate democrats say they're working to pressure two moderate republicans into supporting the democrats in the Senate.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the budget would cut income taxes for all tax filers by $650 million dollars over a two-year period, it would expand statewide private school vouchers and tighten income eligibility under medicaid.

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