The state budget finally passed Friday night after four Republican holdouts were given assurances that Governor Scott Walker would veto several provisions that they found objectionable. According to a release by three of the senators; Duey Stroebel of Cedarburg, Chris Kapenga of Delafield, and Steve Nass of Whitewater, Walker promised to make the following changes to the budget:
Public Finance Authority
-Full veto of this budget provision giving the Public Financing Authority expanded powers, including eminent domain and issuing bonds with no oversight.
School District Referendums
-Partial veto that will permit school district referendums to conduct referendums only on regularly scheduled primary and general election days. Veto would remove special election option in November of odd-numbered years.
Energy Efficiency Exemption to School District Revenue Limit
-Partial veto that reinstates the Governor’s provision to remove the energy efficiency exemption to the school district revenue limit, making school district spending more accountable to its taxpayers.
-Partial veto deleting the requirement that a study be conducted of the Fed-Swap, and give DOT the flexibility to administratively enact a Fed-Swap policy.
Prevailing Wage Repeal
-Partial veto that implements an immediate repeal of prevailing wage on state projects, as opposed to the September 1, 2018, effective date.
Transportation Projects Commission
-Partial veto that leads to removal of changes to the TPC, but leaves the independent engineering study.
In a release thanking the state Senate for passing the budget, the governor also issued a list of the vetoes he will be making:
- Modifications to Public Finance Authority
- Initial Applicability of the Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law
- Transportation Projects Commission Changes
- Transfer of Segregated Funds (WisDOT Fed Swap)
- Tolling Implementation Study
- Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Adjustment
- School District Referenda Scheduling
- State Capitol Basement Renovations
- Local Regulation of Quarries
The last budget veto item was especially contentious in the closing days of the budget. Advocates for the budget provision that would have ended local regulation of aggregate quarries argued that it would save the state and local governments money when doing road construction work. The restrictions on those quarries often raised the costs of individual road projects.
On the other hand, the provision was objected to by some conservatives and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce because, by singling out aggregate quarries for special protection, that the state legislature will actually weaken the protections they believe already exists for all quarries. Because the Department of Natural Resources is the controlling authority on environmental matters in Wisconsin, the opponents claim, the courts already limit local control. Singling out aggregate quarries would undermine that legal position.
Walker’s veto returns the status of quarry regulation to the status quo. In the release, Walker said he would like the issue addressed in separate legislation.
The three senators thanked Walker and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, “for their cooperative approach in allowing for a compromise solution, a stark contrast to the Assembly leadership’s position of process over taxpayers.”
Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, announced earlier on Friday he would support the budget and was not part of the group of conservatives in the negotiations.
Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, did not vote for the state budget. “While this budget contains positive provisions like finally repealing the rest of our prevailing wage law, a reform I have long supported, it fails in its primary function – to appropriately limit the size, and thus the role, of government in our lives,” Craig said in a press release after the vote. “As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘As government expands, liberty contracts.'”
The budget passed the state Senate 19-14, with no Democrats voting for the budget. The budget now goes to the governor for his signature and the appropriate vetoes. The vetoes will be spelled out in veto message next week.