Reaction to the state Senate passing Gov. Walker's two-year budget plan.
Governor Scott Walker released the following statement:
"I am proud of the work done by the Legislature, which passed a budget today that isn't built on accounting gimmicks, use of one time money for ongoing expenses, or tax increases. The budget approved by the Legislature is an honest document that balances Wisconsin's $3.6 billion budget deficit so that our children and grandchildren aren't saddled with mountains of debt in the future.
Moving forward, I plan on taking time over the next two weeks to review the changes made by the Legislature prior to signing the bill before June 30th.
I remain confident that the Senate and Assembly passed a budget that met and exceeded the goal of balancing the budget by cutting spending and not increasing taxes."
Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller:
"After a full day of debate and numerous opportunities to revisit their poor budget choices, Wisconsin state Senate Republicans rubber stamped a two year state budget balanced on the backs of middle class and working families while giving over $2.3 billion in new tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy.
We heard about taking the state in a new direction today, but under the Republican plan that direction is backwards for the middle class.
Their budget breaks promises - raising taxes and fees on the middle class and working families, raiding funds and including almost 80 non-fiscal policy items.
Their misplaced priorities lead to poor choices that give more to the few who have much with new tax giveaways and take from the many gutting public education, cutting health care for women, children seniors and persons with disabilities and ignoring investments in job creation.
The sad reality is that there is neither shared sacrifice nor a real plan to help all Wisconsinites prosper in this budget."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald:
"What Republicans did to fix this mess is nothing short of incredible. We turned a $3 billion deficit into a $300 million surplus, and we did it on time and under budget.
Gov. Walker and the Republicans inherited an absolute mess: a broken economy, a $3 billion structural deficit, runaway government spending, property tax hikes and billions in tax hikes on job creators and families. That's the Democrats' legacy in Wisconsin.
The Republicans fixed this mess with real spending cuts, no tax hikes, a permanent property tax cap for the first time in our state's history, and a real focus on jobs and the economy. We kept our promises to the people of Wisconsin, and we did it without pushing the problems off to the next generation."
Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac):
"This budget brings a long-overdue change to a broken government. Maybe that's the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats: Democrats promise change… Republicans deliver it."
"This budget is about responsible budgeting. Finally, Wisconsin is NOT spending more than it takes in. In fact, this budget takes a $3.6 billion deficit and turns it into a $300 million surplus, and it does so without raising taxes.
At the beginning of this session, Republicans vowed to focus on getting Wisconsin citizens back to work, and passing this budget is a major step towards creating 250,000 private sector jobs. The budget makes great strides in generating a job-creator friendly environment in Wisconsin. The creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – a public-private partnership, whose main focus is private sector job creation; a permanent property tax freeze; reforms in Capital Gains taxes, including a deferral for capital gains re-invested in Wisconsin businesses; and no tax increase: all help to change the economic climate in Wisconsin.
And we have accomplished all of this while still providing for our vulnerable citizens. We preserved SeniorCare, we provided $10 million for emergency placements for Family Care. We also gave $5 million to shore up the Veterans Trust Fund and fulfill the promises we made to those who risked their lives to protect our freedom.
Democrats have continued to call this budget an attack on Wisconsin values. On the contrary, this budget promotes Wisconsin values – independence, self-sufficiency, not spending more than you make, and not mortgaging our children's future.
I am proud to have voted for a budget that will put Wisconsin in the best fiscal shape in 15 years."
Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin):
"The budget Governor Scott Walker and the Legislature approved does not borrow and tax recklessly," Lazich said. "The budget charts a course away from debt and propels Wisconsin into economic recovery."
"The last four budgets included billion dollar increases. The two most recent budgets each increased by $6 billion. This budget is not increased by even one billion dollars. This budget refrains from increasing taxes and fees, eliminates the structural deficit and sets the stage for economic prosperity."
The budget includes a provision by Lazich and Assembly Representatives David Craig (R-Town of Vernon), Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Steve Nass (R-Town of La Grange) that gives Mukwonago High School until January 15, 2013 to change its mascot. The deadline to comply with the Department of Public Instruction mandate was October 8, 2011.
"Mukwonago High School and the Mukwonago community go to great lengths to be respectful to Native American history," Lazich said. "Currently, school districts are assumed guilty of discrimination and must prove innocence. This is a fundamental departure from our country's legal tradition and must be addressed. The extended deadline will give the school, Legislature and court system time to operate and address this issue."
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin:
"The passage of the state budget and the "budget repair" bill is deeply disappointing. While the Republican legislature touts the budget as "balanced" for the first time in years, it is important to remember that this hollow victory was achieved on the backs of local government, public workers, schools, the middle class, the elderly and disabled.
I strongly support the right of workers to organize. The City of Madison has been blessed with a workforce of devoted and hardworking employees. Our public employee unions have contributed to our ability to attract good employees, and created an atmosphere where they can thrive. Unfortunately, the important role of strong public unions will come to an end in Wisconsin. Eliminating these unions is not a "tool" for us to balance our budget; it is a way for Governor Walker and the Republican legislature to shift the burden of give-aways to big business to others and make local governments do their dirty work.
The rest of the provisions in the budget certainly make no contributions toward strengthening our state. Like so many local governments across the state, Madison is looking at a huge deficit and very few options to fix it. The "party of local control" has kept the money at the state level, forced huge cuts on municipalities, and restricted the ways in which local governments can make up the difference. Pay cuts for our employees and cuts in services do not make our communities strong. Slashing spending on schools and infrastructure does not make this state an attractive place for people to move.
Granted, some of the most egregious budget provisions were removed. For example, the City will not have to pay private contractors hundreds of thousands to make road repairs we could do ourselves, nor will the City have to turn to private companies for internet access at ten times the cost. But, saying "It could have been worse" is cold comfort indeed.
This budget is misguided and short sighted, at best."