Walker signs two-year, state budget - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATED: Walker signs state budget into law

Posted: Updated: June 30, 2013 20:45 PM

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed the state budget into law. 

Walker signed the budget, which passed both chambers of the legislature in June after being crafted by the 12-member joint finance committee, at a Pleasant Prairie business Sunday morning. 

The Governor kept the budget's centerpieces in tact. 

It contains a $651-million dollar income tax cut, expands private school vouchers statewide and also rejects federal money offered to state's under the President's health care reform law to expand their medicaid programs. 

Walker's plan is to direct those who would've been covered using the additional money into the private, health care exchanges -- another part of the affordable care act -- so they can purchase their own health insurance. 

"This is a budget that invests more in our veterans, in our infrastructure and in our workforce development," Walker said in Pleasant Prairie. "This is a budget that puts more into healthcare and mental healthcare, and this is a budget that is good for the people of Wisconsin." 

The Governor in total made 57 amendments to the budget. 

Among them, Walker vetoed a proposal to kick the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism off of the UW-Madison's campus. 

He also opted to veto a provision added in by the joint finance committee that would have allowed for profit, bail bondsmen to operate in Wisconsin. 

So-called bounty hunters have not been allowed in the state since 1979. 

Attorney General J. B. Van Hole praised the Governor's decision to veto the measure. 
But democrats say the budget, which provides a funding boost of $150 per pupil to Wisconsin's public schools, short changes the public education system. 

"We've had huge cuts to public schools," said Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) referencing the state's 2012/13 budget.

"There was a lot of divisiveness in the state," Billings said. "So I was surprised the budget would make it to the Governor without taking another look at funding public education in a better way after those historic cuts." 

The budget received no democratic votes in either the state senate or assembly. 

Billings also said she is disappointed the non-partisan legislative fiscal bureau projects the budget will run a structural deficit -- spending more money than it takes in through revenue. 
"We entered these budget negotiations with a $500-million surplus and now we'll be at a deficit again," Billings said.

The Governor has said he believes the LFB negotiations are inaccurate because they do not take economic growth into account. 

On a visit at La Crosse's Boys and Girls Club June 12, Walker predicted the state would finish the 2014/15 budget cycle with a surplus. 

But Billings did praise one aspect of the budget -- a two-year tuition freeze at all, UW system schools. 

Walker called for the freeze, which garnered strong, bipartisan support, after the university system admitted to holding almost $650-million in its reserve fund despite consistently raising tuition. 

"I think this is a rainy day," said Billings, adding Wisconsin families have carried "a lot of debt," due to tuition hikes. 

"So if the university has set aside funds for a rainy day, let's give those families, those students, a break," she said. 

Fiscal year 2014 begins July 1. 


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