The Latest on Wisconsin state budget (all times local):
Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal making Wisconsin the first state to require drug tests to receive Medicaid health benefits has won approval from the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.
The Joint Finance Committee on Thursday voted to give itself oversight and final approval on Walker’s plans to drug-test able-bodied, childless adult Medicaid applicants. There would also be a drug test requirement for food stamp recipients.
Democratic opponents argue the drug testing would be unconstitutional.
Walker is also seeking federal approval for the drug testing and new work requirements for Medicaid and food stamp recipients.
The committee approved Walker’s plans on a 12-4 vote, with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. It’s now a part of the state budget that the full Legislature will vote on later this summer.
The Republican-controlled Legislature wants the final say on Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to drug-test some able-bodied Medicaid applicants and food stamp recipients.
A proposal before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee on Thursday would require signoff by the panel before the requirements could take effect as Walker wants in April 2019. Walker is preparing a waiver request with the federal government to proceed.
If approved, Wisconsin would be the first state to drug-test childless adults who are applying for Medicaid. Walker also wants to drug-test parents and childless adults on food stamps. He is also calling for imposing new work requirements on childless adults in Medicaid and parents on food stamps.
Democrats don’t have enough votes to block any of the proposals.
The Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee has ditched Gov. Scott Walker’s call to cut University of Wisconsin tuition by 5 percent.
The Joint Finance Committee instead voted 12-4 Thursday to continue a tuition freeze for two more years. It’s been in place for four years.
Walker said earlier Thursday that continuing the freeze would be a “huge victory” for students and parents. His budget called for extending the freeze for one year and cutting tuition by 5 percent the second year of the budget, which would have saved students as much as $460 next year depending on the school they attend.
The Joint Finance Committee also reduced the funding increase Walker proposed for UW by about $6 million.
The committee’s changes to the budget are expected to be passed by the full Legislature largely unchanged, making its votes significant in the ongoing process of passing a two-year spending plan.
A Republican state senator plans to vote against the state budget as it currently stands, complicating passage of the spending plan.
A spokesman for Sen. Steve Nass said Thursday that as the budget stands now, Nass would vote against it. Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen says elimination of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 5 percent University of Wisconsin tuition cut and other changes to higher education funding “doesn’t help him get to a yes.”
Nass is a longtime critic of the UW System and has broken with Republicans in the past and voted against Walker budgets.
Republicans have 20 seats in the Senate and need 17 votes to pass the budget. Republicans also control the Assembly by a wide 64-35 margin.
The Republican-controlled Legislature’s budget committee plans to reject Gov. Scott Walker’s call to cut University of Wisconsin tuition by 5 percent.
Co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said Thursday they instead plan to continue a tuition freeze for two more years. It’s been in place for four years.
Gov. Scott Walker said earlier Thursday that continuing the freeze would be a “huge victory” for students and parents. His budget called for extending the freeze for one year and cutting tuition by 5 percent the second year of the budget.
The committee’s changes to the budget is expected to be passed by the full Legislature largely unchanged, making its votes significant in the ongoing process of passing a two-year spending plan.
The Republican majority leader in the Wisconsin state Assembly is pushing back against Gov. Scott Walker’s call for lawmakers to act quickly on a plan to fund roads.
Rep. Jim Steineke on Thursday called on Walker and the state Senate to come forward with a plan that pays for roads without “borrowing at the peril of our children.”
Walker’s initial proposal calls for $500 million more in borrowing and Senate leaders have also floated the idea of more borrowing.
But Steineke and Assembly Republicans want less borrowing and are calling for increasing gas taxes and fees. Steineke says Assembly Republicans remain open to negotiations and options that would lead to a long-term road-funding solution.
He says, “Ignoring the problem and putting a Band-Aid on it just won’t work.”
Gov. Scott Walker says he would be OK if tuition is not cut at the University of Wisconsin as he proposed.
Walker told reporters Thursday that while he would love to get a 5 percent tuition cut as he proposed, continuing the tuition freeze for two more years would be a “huge victory.” Tuition has been frozen the past four years.
Assembly Republicans have said they don’t want to cut tuition as Walker called for. Some Senate Republicans have said they want to do the cut.
The Legislature’s budget-writing committee was scheduled to vote on the tuition cut Tuesday but delayed it until Thursday.
Walker says he met with Assembly Republicans on Wednesday to discuss various budget areas where they disagree, including eliminating the state property tax.
Gov. Scott Walker is urging the state Legislature to “get it done” and reach agreement on road funding by the end of June without raising gas taxes.
Walker held a news conference Thursday in Neenah where construction work is ongoing on the Highways 10/441 interchange and expansion.
Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been unable to reach agreement on how to pay for road projects, like the one in the Fox Valley that he is highlighting Thursday.
Walker repeated his opposition to raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees. He also opposes separating the transportation budget from the rest of the state budget, a move that could delay reaching a deal for months and jeopardize funding for current projects.
Gov. Scott Walker was to urge lawmakers to reach a deal on road funding, while the Legislature’s budget committee was likely to reject Walker’s proposed tuition cut for the University of Wisconsin.
The Joint Finance Committee was also slated to vote Thursday on Walker’s welfare reform package that includes making Wisconsin the first state in the country to require drug tests for some Medicaid applicants.
Walker scheduled a news conference in Neenah to discuss the urgency of reaching agreement on roads funding. Walker and Republican legislative leaders are at odds over the best plan.
Republicans also can’t agree on whether to cut UW tuition by 5 percent as Walker wants, by a lesser amount or continue the current freeze.
The budget committee was expected to approve Walker’s expansive welfare overhaul.