Budget Momentum Or More Fits And Starts?

MacIver News Service | June 20, 2017

By M.D. Kittle

[Madison, Wis…] – There is momentum.

That’s how state Rep. Dale Kooyenga describes the heavy lifting that’s left on the state’s 2017-19 budget – due in 10 days.

The Brookfield Republican, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said the sticking point remains transportation.

“That’s a whole different story,” Kooyenga told MacIver News Service Tuesday morning during an interview on the Dan O’Donnell Show on NewsTalk 1130 WISN in Milwaukee. “There are pretty significant differences between the governor and the Assembly, and we’re trying to figure out where the Senate is at.”

“I think the rest of the budget is probably good to move forward pretty fast. I could be wrong on that,” he added.

It has in recent weeks been a budget process of fits and starts. As of late Tuesday, it was not clear whether the Joint Finance Committee would meet this week. Republican leadership from both houses did meet Tuesday, sources say.

The trouble, sources say, is on the education front. In recent days it seemed the Assembly and Senate were coming to terms on an education budget, but there remain differences on spending.

Capitol insiders tell MacIver News that Assembly leadership is sticking to a plan to issue laptops or tablets to all high school freshman. The initiative is expected to cost $10 million, according to sources.

The Assembly rolled out the plan in September as part of its “Forward Agenda.”

At the time, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said, “Every single student should have the opportunity to have that same access to technology, be they someone who’s poor in the inner city or wealthy in the suburbs.” He said there would be no income threshold tied to the initiative.

Sources say fiscal hawks in the Senate are not sold on the idea.

Kooyenga and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, also a member of the Joint Finance Committee, were expected to meet Tuesday to hammer out “some positions” on a tax package to present to leadership.

“I think we’re in a very good spot on taxes,” said Kooyenga. He and Marklein are part of the Legislature’s “CPA Caucus.”

Tax cuts remain the order of the day. The question is, how much – and how to pay for them.

“We’re not (just) lowering taxes, we’re actually eliminating taxes all over the place in this budget,” Kooyenga said. “I think on many different fronts conservatives and Wisconsinites will be very happy with the final product.”

Kooyenga discusses the state of the budget at the end of this interview: