From my email inbox comes a statement from Democratic State Rep. Chris Sinicki on the 2013-2015 biennial budget.
“Yesterday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos attempted to usher a hurried vote on the state budget, claiming Republican changes were simply clauses in a “technical (i.e., non-substantive) amendment”. After Democrats challenged that ruse, Vos admitted the amendment deserved open review, and briefed them its provisions. Since he also said he was proud of his budget, why was he so afraid to talk about it?
“The amendment, of course, contained many more changes than he acknowledged. The obvious reason he didn’t want to talk about them, aside from this Republican habit of avoiding public scrutiny, was that they worsen a budget already chock full of policy changes profoundly damaging to cornerstone state programs. And this is not to mention that it leaves in place the already-damaging changes added to the Governor’s budget by the Republican-led Joint Committee on Finance (JCF).
“As widely discussed in the press, this budget and the Assembly amendment
- further privatize our children’s education with generous voucher funding, but stingy aid for public schools (p. 512);
- disregard the health of thousands of Wisconsinites while costing Wisconsin’s hospitals and insured patients’ huge financial loss (p.2, third bullet point under “Health Care, Adults”);
- privatize law enforcement by introducing bail bondsmen to Wisconsin (p.588, Item #11);
- cut millions of dollars from the state land stewardship fund (p.448, Item #15); and
- across the state, trample on local governments’ right to self-governance by invalidating their residency rules (p.265)
“One of the very, very few bright spots in this budget is retention of already-approved funding for some transportation projects. Most importantly for the South Shore, money promised for the Hoan Bridge restoration remains in this budget.
“But a few bright spots do not bring this budget up to the threshold I and my colleagues need to support a state budget. Because, beyond the most egregious measures mentioned above, the budget is full of bad things that haven’t yet become widely known.
- This budget will kick thousands of employees off of Unemployment Insurance, which will allow Republicans to claim next year that unemployment has fallen dramatically!! (pg.730, Items # 1-2,6-9), Comparative Summary of Budget Recommendations, Governor and Joint Finance)
- This budget hikes Unemployment Insurance taxes on many employers in the Tourism, Manufacturing, and Construction industries, but lets other businesses off the hook. (p 734, Item #5)
- Allows the Governor’s Department of Administration to sell off state properties that are under the authority of other state agencies (UW System, Tourism, Historical Society, Health, Veterans, and Corrections). (p.46, Item #6)
- This budget will kick up to 63,000 seniors, veterans, out-of-work parents and others off of Food Share. (p.330, Item #1)
- This budget eases rules for payday lenders. (p.228, Item #12)
- And, of all people to do so, Republicans wrote themselves an exception to the law prohibiting passage of a budget that creates a budget deficit. (p.7, Assembly Amendment 3 to ASA 1 to AB 40)
“The state Senate, a possible conference committee between the two houses, and then the Governor using his veto pen will change the content of this budget further in the next weeks. Democrats will continue to highlight the hundreds of provisions in this budget that never met the scrutiny of a public hearing, since these measures will literally change the lives of millions of Wisconsin residents in basic, essential ways that we’re just beginning to understand.”