What You Won't Find in the Senate Republican Budget Proposal

Jul 18, 2017

With the state budget more than two weeks overdue, Senate Republicans are escalating their war with Assembly Republicans over sticking points in the budget-writing process by releasing their own budget proposal, crafted behind closed doors, with no bipartisan input.

A budget is all about priorities and the Wisconsin State Budget is no different. If you ask people across the state what the state should fund, most will tell you that we should fund our schools, our roads and essential services that keep us safe. 

Here’s what you won’t find in the Senate Republican budget proposal set to be released today. 

1. Bi-Partisan Ideas
Repeated attempts by Democrats to reach across the aisle and garner support for an open, bipartisan, budget-writing process have been shot down – even has Republicans continue to struggle to pass a budget out of the Joint Committee on Finance more than two weeks after the July 1 deadline for a signed budget. Instead, Republicans have shut Democrats out of budget negotiations, opting for a one-sided, closed door process. 
Democrats have offered ideas on a long-term solution to fix the transportation budget, fully-fund public schools, increase access to health care, protect elderly veterans, and more. Democratic leaders are still waiting for Republicans to include them in the budget writing process.   
2. Long-term solutions to transportation funding crisis 
So far, Republican ideas on transportation funding haven’t addressed the long-term fix sought by communities across our state. Most recently, Gov. Walker proposed a new transportation plan that cuts state funding and begs President Trump for more federal aid. 

Democrats have been talking about this crisis and putting forward solutions for years, but have been ignored by Republican leadership. Most recently, Democrats proposed a Joint Transportation Committee to break the budget impasse. The plan from Democratic Leaders calls for the creation of a bipartisan joint Senate and Assembly committee consisting of four Republican and four Democratic lawmakers. The committee would be charged with soliciting public input, developing a long-term transportation funding plan, protecting Wisconsin jobs, expanding job training opportunities and improving project safety. All proposals to increase and broaden revenue streams, address recent workplace restrictions and restore fair worker wages would be on the table.

Weeks later, Gov. Walker and Republican politicians are still unable to work together and come to a consensus. 

3. Long-term plan to create an economy that works for us all by investing in entrepreneurs, creating jobs and raising wages 
The latest Republican budget proposal rejected a series of bipartisan revenue solutions proposed by Democrats. Instead, Republicans proposed massive worker pay cuts, project delays, costly borrowing, and outsourcing Wisconsin jobs. 

Led, by Sen. Leah Vukmir, the latest Republican proposal includes a full repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws. Previous Republican efforts to chip away at Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws have already contributed to a 53% increase in the number of local construction projects being outsourced. Studies have found that contracts that should be going to local workers have been outsourced to out-of-state companies that bring in cheap labor, deliver substandard workmanship and undercut Wisconsin jobs.

4. Full restoration of historic cuts made to public education, higher education, worker training programs.

Legislative Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee unveiled a funding plan for Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools to invest $729 million more in K-12 education than Governor Walker’s proposal and lower property taxes by nearly $25 million. 

Wisconsinites see education as a priority for their local community, and if education is the biggest priority for Wisconsin state leaders, there should be no disagreement. 

5. Student loan debt relief 
With nearly one million Wisconsin residents owing a combined $19 billion in student loan debt, Democratic lawmakers continue to push for solutions to lower interest rates and target relief to students and families. 
Democratic lawmakers on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee introduced a comprehensive plan that would allow individuals to refinance student loans at lower interest rates and expand tax credits for families with student loan debt.

While the proposal to lower student loan debt and expand refinancing options is overwhelmingly supported by the public, Republican majority members on the committee rejected the plan outright.