Senate takes up budget - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Senate takes up budget

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Despite disruptions from protesters, lawmakers in the state Senate continue to debate the state's two year budget.

The Assembly spent 13 hours on the bill before passing its version early Thursday morning.

Most of the debate over the $66 billion bill has been from Democrats. The minority party is calling the budget an assault on the middle class. They say the bill will hurt health care services, the poor and education.

The budget cuts public education funding by $800 million over two years and limits local school districts' ability to make up the difference through property taxes.

Republicans are defending the plan designed to plug the state's $3 billion shortfall. They say it gives manufacturers and corporations job-creating tax breaks, while not raising taxes.

Democrats scoffed at that argument.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) told Republicans, "Tell them what you really did. That you did tax. That you did put fiscal items in the budget after you said you would not. That you did increase spending. That you did choose corporations over people."

"You talk about corporations, this class warfare," said Sen. Roberta Darling (R-River Hills).  "We would be lucky to grow more high-paying jobs. That's the goal, to create maintain and attract high-paying jobs."

Senate Democrats have introduced a number of amendments to the budget.  Republicans are all but certain to reject them all.  That's because the Senate and Assembly bills must pass in identical forms before heading to the governor for his consideration.

Once the bill gets to the governor's desk, his office has indicated he will sign it before June 30.

The governor does have expansive line-item veto power.

It's not clear yet what he might veto, but a spokesperson said the governor will not use his veto power to allow school voucher programs to be expanded statewide.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The state budget is now in the hands of the Senate.

Senators took the roll call, said the Pledge of Allegiance and then promptly adjourned into caucus.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald requested time for both parties to caucus.  Lawmakers reconvened around 1 p.m.

When senators came into the chambers, people from the gallery chanted "Kill the bill."

The bill came to the Senate after the Assembly approved it early Thursday morning.  It passed on a party line vote of 60-38.

Senate Democrats are expected to introduce a number of amendments, and Republicans are likely to table them all.

Stay with WKOW.com for the latest on the Senate debate on the budget. 

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