21 nonfiscal policy items removed from Walker's budget

2011-04-20T19:11:00Z 21 nonfiscal policy items removed from Walker's budgetCLAY BARBOUR | cbarbour@madison.com | 608-252-6129 madison.com

The Legislature's budget committee announced Wednesday the removal of 21 nonfiscal policy items from Gov. Scott Walker's budget, including proposed changes to family planning laws and charter school teacher licensing.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who co-chair the Joint Finance Committee, said the items — among 46 policy items in the budget identified Wednesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau — should instead be considered as separate legislation. The committee plans to begin rewriting the governor's budget Tuesday.

Traditionally, governors' budgets are supposed to avoid pure policy issues that don't spend money. However, most try to the push the envelope and sneak policy items in.

"This is not uncommon, but the hypocrisy involved in this decision is unfortunate, given the constant objection to nonfiscal policy items in previous budgets," said state Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, who asked for the Fiscal Bureau analysis.

The governor on Wednesday said having his budget analyzed is just part of the process.

"We believe these items have a fiscal impact and will continue to work with members of the Legislature to ensure the final version of the budget balances without raising taxes," said Cullen Werwie, Walker's spokesman.

The governor's two-year spending plan includes $28.7 billion in state funding, a 1.4 percent increase over the previous budget. It addresses the state's $3.6 billion shortfall by cutting more than $1 billion from education, could knock more than 50,000 people off BadgerCare and cuts aid to the poor.

But in the document, Walker also proposes major changes to charter schools, family planning and long-standing evironmental regulations.

Most of the policy items identified by the Fiscal Bureau are not controversial. Others are, including Walker's efforts to repeal pollution, water quality and phosphorous standards, as well as his proposal to end public financing of campaigns for the state Supreme Court and repeal a mandate that insurance cover contraceptives.

Of those, the Joint Finance Committee only removed Walker's efforts to repeal the mandated coverage of contraceptives.

"I hope that these items are not only removed from the budget but not considered at all," said Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona.

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