MacIver News Service | May 8, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON, Wis. — State Rep. Shannon Zimmerman is about to step into his first budget-writing rodeo. And Thursday promises to be a bumpy ride for the new member of the Joint Finance Committee.
The River Falls Republican, like his 15 committee colleagues, will have his work cut out for him. Zimmerman says he’s ready to get going.
“There’s an old saying, ‘If anything’s worth having, it’s worth having to work for,” he told MacIver News Service this week.
The Republican-controlled Finance Committee will begin Thursday’s executive session by voting to remove some 140 “non-fiscal” items from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ $84.2 billion budget proposal. It’s like a furniture store going-out-of-business sale: Everything — or most everything — must go.
Democrats aren’t happy with the majority’s plan to chop Evers’ centerpiece agenda items, like decriminalization of marijuana and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, from the budget. They are particularly incensed by the removal of the governor’s plan to expand BadgerCare in Wisconsin, an initiative propped up by hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxpayer money.
Zimmerman says he’s never been a fan of passing policy within budgets, whether Democrats or Republicans do it — and Republicans certainly have done it. It “short-circuits” the process, the lawmaker says.
The small business owner tells MacIver News Service he will approach the budget-building process with a private-sector point of view. And he says he will keep the plea of an elderly constituent front of mind as he votes on budget priorities.
“She was in her mid-70s and her husband had passed away. One of the last things she said to me as we were saying goodbye was, ‘Please don’t tax me out of my house. I want to be able to die here.’ It’s her voice that echoes in my mind when I look at this budget request,” Zimmerman said. “That’s why, with conviction, I’m going to be able to stand up and say, ‘Look, we can’t do all of this. We could create harm to many, many people in the state of Wisconsin. While on the surface there could be things that feel good, there could be things that actually are good, but there are also going to be some things in the governor’s proposed budget that are not good for many Wisconsinites.”
Rep. Shannon Zimmerman talks budget, business, and legislative brownies in this edition of the MacIver News Minute.