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Wisconsin Senate okays $99 billion, two-year state budget

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(The Center Square) – The majority of Wisconsin Republican state senators are on board with the new $99 billion state budget.

Almost every Republican voted for the two-year spending plan Thursday night.

“Overall, our budget invests in core priorities and returns a record amount of money back to the taxpayers,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu told lawmakers during the vote.

The budget spends $1 billion more on public schools in Wisconsin, increases pay for state workers, and earmarks hundreds of millions of dollars for road and bridge projects across the state.

The spending plan also includes a $4.4 billion tax cut, but Gov. Tony Evers may veto that out of the new budget.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, was one of two Republicans to vote against the new budget. He said it simply spends too much.

“The 2023-25 budget … will total more than $99 billion in spending (All Funds) for a state of only 5.9 million people. This is a $10.3 billion increase over the current budget (ALL Funds) or about an 11.7% growth in spending,” Nass said. “The budget submitted by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will take this state from a $7 billion structural balance to a $2.5 billion structural deficit at the start of the next budget period on July 1, 2025.”

Democrats in the State Senate also voted against the budget, because they say it doesn’t spend enough.

“[Republicans] voted to turn their backs on families, on parents, and on children. And instead, they voted for a massive tax break for the wealthy. That will ensure that we cannot fund programs like childcare counts in the future,” Sen. Mark Spritzer, D–Beloit, said.

The budget also includes a $32 million cut to the University of Wisconsin aimed at the University of Wisconsin System’s diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Gov. Evers had threatened to veto the budget because of that cut, but over the weekend softened on that stance because lawmakers are giving the university a chance to spend the money elsewhere.

The State Assembly next takes up the budget Thursday afternoon.

After that, the spending plan will head to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

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