State lawmakers, officials react to Gov. Walker’s budget proposals
MADISON — There is no shortage of reaction to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposals unveiled in Madison on Wednesday, February 8th.
Below is a collection of statements from state lawmakers and other officials on Walker’s budget plan:
State Sen. Alberta Darling (R – River Hills) & State Rep. John Nygren (R – Marinette)
“This proposal gives us a solid starting point as we begin the state budget process. Thanks to responsible budgeting in the past, our state budget is now in great shape. We’re happy to see strong investments in public education, common sense welfare reforms, and continued tax relief for Wisconsinites around the state.
Moving forward, we will consider all of the necessary programs that rely on state dollars and ensure that these programs are funded appropriately. We will continue to prioritize education, employ prudent fiscal budgeting to keep taxes low, and work to find a sustainable solution to our state’s transportation funding problem.
Now that the budget proposal is in the legislature’s hands, it’s time for the Joint Finance Committee to make improvements with the help of the people of Wisconsin. Together, we will make the budget even better.
We look forward to working with our legislative colleagues, stakeholders, and Wisconsin residents to craft a budget we can be proud to support.”
State Rep. Peter Barca (D – Kenosha)
“We need a budget that works for every Wisconsinite—one that truly supports education, proposes a serious long-term solution to fix our flailing infrastructure, and will help create family-supporting jobs. What we don’t need is a continuation of the last six years where the governor’s priorities consistently put the state’s wealthiest citizens over working families.
“The governor is putting forth budget proposals that are anemic attempts to address problems he has created, problems that have led to Wisconsinites feeling left behind by a rigged system and low approval ratings. Democrats will continue to push bold and creative ideas to revitalize our middle class, invest in local communities and public education, and ensure our roads and bridges are safe and reliable.”
State Rep. Dan Knodl (R – Germantown)
“When I talk to businesses and individuals in the district about the issues they are most concerned about, I often hear the same thing: lowering taxes, creating good-paying jobs, and making sure we have great schools preparing students for the workforce. Today, Governor Walker laid out budget proposals that will help our state continue moving forward in all three of these areas.
“These budget proposals are a good starting point. I look forward to working through the budget process with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to continue reducing the tax burden, helping businesses grow, and providing Wisconsin students with the best education possible.”
State Sen. Mark Miller (D – Monona)
“Governor Walker’s re-election budget is his latest attempt to mislead Wisconsinites. We deserve better than alternative facts and alternative math. We have real problems that deserve real solutions – roads, public schools, family-supporting jobs, clean drinking water. Perhaps if Governor Walker hadn’t pandered away billions on tax breaks to the wealthy the past 6 years, we could cure what really ails us.”
State Rep. Michael Schraa (R – Oshkosh)
“Governor Walker has prioritized K-12 education, which is as it should be. It is my hope that the fiscal analysis will support all of these increases. Innovative proposals for higher education are necessary and in the best interests of students and Wisconsin taxpayers.
“The largest challenge is the urgent need for funding our transportation system. We’ve come a long way from the disastrous Transportation Fund raids under the previous administration. I’m glad to say that Republican reforms have provided sufficient funds to replenish the funds that were raided, and now a Constitutional Amendment protects those designated funds. The time has come to address the problems associated with delayed maintenance and construction. The Governor and I are in agreement that this can be accomplished without a net increase in taxes, but there can be no further delays. I appreciate his statement that, “A solid transportation system is also part of being accountable to the taxpayers. Our budget includes more funding for local governments to fix roads and bridges and potholes than they’ve seen in more than a decade and a half. It also includes the largest amount ever for rehabilitation of state highways.” I will be examining the details of his transportation proposal carefully.”
State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D – Milwaukee)
“During Republican leadership over the past six years, hard-working Wisconsinites are struggling. Job creation is stagnant, factories are closing their doors and leaving the state, and the formation of innovative small business start-ups in Wisconsin ranks dead last in the nation. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow, and people across our great state are struggling to find quality, family-supporting jobs. Simply put, Governor Walker’s legislative agenda is not moving Wisconsin forward.
“Last year, as working people struggled, Governor Walker and the Republican controlled legislature gave $21 million in tax breaks and incentives to eleven millionaires with no job creation requirements. Tax cuts like these have done nothing to rebuild the middle-class or help families in Wisconsin get ahead. We need to prioritize tax cuts for Wisconsin’s working families and create an environment that encourages small businesses to grow from the kitchen table to the warehouse floor.
“My Democratic colleagues and I are committed to fixing an economy that is rigged for the wealthy elite. We need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. The deck has been stacked against Wisconsin’s workers for far too long, and we need to implement commonsense solutions that ensure that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has the opportunity to support themselves and their families.”
Brad Courtney, Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman
“Governor Scott Walker is successfully leading the fight to provide for Wisconsin’s hard-working families. As a result, Wisconsin is seeing the reform dividend in action: more money to classrooms, a historic cut to UW tuition, and increased tax relief for taxpayers across the state. Our fiscal outlook is bright, and together under Governor Walker we are working and winning.”
State Sen. Janis Ringhand (D – Evansville)
“Clearly, this is budget contains many Democratic ideas as the Governor prepares for his re-election campaign.
“I am pleased that there will be no further delays in the I-39/90 project from the Beloit to Madison. This project that is vital for safety and economic development in Rock County.
“Governor Walker has changed his tune when it comes to funding education and is no longer proposing to further cut public education funding. He finally grasps that a great public education system is good politics.
“No Governor has ever had his budget adopted intact. It is a long process and there will be many changes made to his re-election proposal. Changes that, I hope are for the better.
“When it comes to the state budget, the devil is in the details. Nothing good happens when hyper-partisan Republicans lock themselves in a room to make late-night changes to the budget.
“I look forward to working my colleagues throughout the budget process to ensure that we have good schools, good roads and a state budget that works for everyone.”
Attorney General Brad Schimel
“At the Wisconsin Department of Justice, we’re grateful for Governor Walker’s support of our public safety mission. It’s no coincidence the Governor enjoys the support of the law enforcement community throughout the State, and his proposed budget for DOJ is a continued sign of his commitment to public safety. I look forward to working with the Legislature moving toward passage and final adoption.”
State Sen. Chris Larson (D – Milwaukee)
“What we saw today was a feeble attempt at a political deathbed conversion. Walker begged for applause during his address, but legislators, like Wisconsinites, are not fooled by a state budget that continues the same pattern of false promises and irresponsible priorities. Walker and legislative Republicans have started another budget that favors wealthy campaign donors over our children.
“After years of intentional underfunding, Walker’s budget does little to address the close the gap he created. In fact, since Walker took office, the K-12 education funding gap has steadily increased. Adjusting for inflation, the governor’s reluctant education funding presented in this budget still doesn’t return our K-12 education funding to 2010-2011 levels. The fact is that teachers have struggled and sacrificed to offer our children educational opportunities under Walker’s anti-education agenda. Our neighbors, our students, and our teachers are waiting for him to close the values gap he created.
“Walker can’t rip the heart out of our neighborhood schools and expect praise when he throws a Band-Aid at our children and teachers. If we truly want our children to thrive and grow, we must return to our traditional Wisconsin commitment to fully investing in education.”
State Rep. Scott Allen (R – Waukesha)
“We heard from Gov. Walker on the outline of his priorities in the state budget,” said Rep. Allen. “Now, as the Fiscal Bureau does their work, we will take time to hear from our neighbors in Waukesha, Genesee, and Mukwonago about their priorities. My job right now is about listening.”
The leading priorities will be education, transportation, and tax relief. Rep. Allen is excited to learn about the elimination of the statewide property tax. Other important issues addressed by this budget include workforce development and supporting families.
“There is no need for the State of Wisconsin to have a statewide property tax. The news of its demise is welcome,” said Rep. Allen. “Significantly, this budget expands the culture of work and reinforces the family as a building block for success.”
Martha Laning, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair
“For years, Democrats have asked the Governor to fully restore cuts made to public education and the UW-System, invest more funds into workforce development, expand high-speed broadband internet access to rural communities, make it easier for students to earn a degree, make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, and work to create an economy that works for everyone – not just those at the very top.
“Democrats were rebuffed at every turn. Instead, Gov. Walker issued the same failed policies each legislative session that put our state in a deep financial hole today. His cut to public education funding was the largest in state history. Since 2011, 139 school districts agreed to raise their own property taxes just to keep their school’s lights on. Walker cut $250 million from the UW-System and campuses all over the state were forced to do more with far fewer resources. Gov. Walker also ignored one million student loan borrowers looking for relief from their monthly student loan bill.
“For years, Walker delayed major transportation projects that will now cost an additional $20 million per year just to be maintained. He’s hurt rural communities and students by failing to fully commit to expanding broadband access. Worst of all, he’s failed to create the jobs he said he would – Wisconsin still ranks 32nd in the nation in private sector job growth.”
State Rep. Tyler Vorpagel (R – Plymouth)
“I’d first of all like to congratulate Governor Walker on introducing a budget that invests in Wisconsin’s future and builds on his fiscal responsibility in prior budgets.
“Investing in our children has been a top priority for me, and I’m glad to see that the Governor is committed to investing in our schools. Our children are the infrastructure of the state, educating them to become industrious is the backbone of our state.
“Getting people back to work this session is a high priority for me, in Sheboygan County we currently have a worker shortage. I’m happy to see that the Governor is continuing to invest in worker training and giving people the tools to move into high paying jobs without be penalized if they receive assistance.”
State Rep. David Bowen (D – Milwaukee)
“While any increase in funding is better than the severe cuts forced on schools in recent years by the governor and his legislative allies, the mild per pupil increase in this proposed budget is still only a fraction of the more than $2 billion Republicans have cut from K-12, tech schools, and universities.
“For six years now, working Wisconsin families have struggled to make ends meet under Gov. Walker’s tax increases,” said Bowen. “It’s positive news that this budget would hit the pause button on his cruel treatment of the working poor, but it is highly suspect that he’s waited until his re-election budget to have a sudden change of heart.”
State Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D – Milwaukee)
“We must treat people with dignity and respect and provide them with real opportunities if we want Wisconsin children and families to succeed in our communities. I believe this is a core value that all Wisconsinites can get on board with, and our state budget should absolutely reflect this.
“Unfortunately, it appears that Governor Walker’s reelection budget puts his political agenda before the well-being of Wisconsin’s children and families. His first three budgets created winners and losers by pitting our communities against each other, and this budget appears to do more of the same.
“While Gov. Walker and his allies continue to tear down Wisconsin communities in need while giving hand-outs to the wealthy and well-connected, I will fight to build an infrastructure in Wisconsin that creates pathways for our youth and families to thrive and succeed.”
State Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D – La Crosse)
“Working families are struggling to get ahead and Gov. Walker’s budget continues to put the American dream out of reach for too many. Families in western Wisconsin are tired of driving on crumbling roads and want stronger leadership to strengthen communities. Rather than extending Gov. Walker’s tax breaks for the wealthy and doubling down on subsidies for companies that outsource Wisconsin jobs, we should be investing in affordable child care, student loan debt relief and retirement security.”
“Wisconsin has trailed the national average in job growth for 20 consecutive quarters under Gov. Walker. We need a balanced budget that prioritizes our local schools, families and communities. Instead of responsible solutions, Gov. Walker has built a house of cards based on false assumptions and fake money. A budget that fails to address the $1 billion transportation funding deficit is not a balanced budget. If we don’t have safe and reliable roads, bridges and public infrastructure, our economy will continue to suffer and working families will fall further behind.”