PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a $70 billion, two-year state budget on Sunday that he said would invest in state education, residents and infrastructure, but that Democrats complained would mostly help the wealthy.

The budget approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature includes all of Walker’s priorities, including a $650 million income tax cut, expansion of private school vouchers and changes to the state’s Medicaid and food stamp programs.

Walker signed the budget in Pleasant Prairie, on the border with Illinois, and compared Wisconsin favorably to its neighbor in terms of cutting taxes and controlling spending.

Walker and Republican leaders who attended the signing made much of its nearly $1 billion in income and other tax cuts. Rep. John Nygren, a Marinette Republican and co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee, said seeing the tax cuts signed into law took some of the sting out of Walker’s vetoes.

Walker made 57 changes to the budget using a veto power that allows him to cut words from sentences to change their meaning and remove individual digits to create new numbers. His two most significant vetoes eliminated provisions creating a bounty hunter program and kicking an investigative journalism center off the UW-Madison campus.

Nygren and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who also attended the ceremony, described the vetoes as unsurprising. Walker vetoed similar bounty hunter legislation last year, and Fitzgerald said many lawmakers had questions about the journalism center provision after the budget committee added it at the last minute.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised Walker for vetoing the bounty hunter program, which had strong opposition from those in law enforcement.

Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, thanked Walker for the veto and said in a statement the center was using the occasion to kick off a fundraising drive to support its work. The center hopes to raise more than $100,000 a year to pay for student internships, he said.

The budget rejects the federal Medicaid expansion, as Walker wanted, and reduces income eligibility for the program in Wisconsin to the federal poverty level. But, it also removes caps on enrollment.

“Going forward, everyone living in poverty in this state will have access to health care,” Walker said.

He went on to say, however, that the “biggest, boldest reform” in the budget was new work requirements for people on food stamps. Able-bodied adults must spend at least 20 hours a week working or getting trained for a job, or they will be limited to three months of benefits over three years. Walker described this as a kindness.

“We say it’s time to get the training, and the access to training so that when a job becomes available, you are ready to get in the game,” he said.

Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, of Kenosha, described the budget as one that “fails the middle class” and “includes what may be the worst decision made in our state in a generation — a health care plan that covers 85,000 fewer people and costs taxpayers an additional $120 million.”

School voucher opponents wondered whether Walker would cut out caps to the statewide expansion, but the governor didn’t. He did veto a budget amendment that would have allowed existing voucher schools in Milwaukee and Racine to accept students eligible for the statewide expansion without having them count toward the cap.

Walker said he wanted to show “my word was good” after agreeing to limit the expansion to 500 students next year and 1,000 the year after that.

Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, who voted against the budget, said he was glad to see Walker honor the caps, but he believed the voucher expansion coupled with too-big tax cuts would lay “a foundation of instability for Wisconsin which will resound across the country and around the world.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau predicted the budget will create a $505 million shortfall going into the 2015-17 biennium, assuming state tax revenues and expenditures don’t change. Such a shortfall is commonly referred to as the state’s structural deficit.

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(56) comments

toby
toby

Just remember Walkerites: "We are moving Forward" Just don't question how fast, it might ruin your insulated state of denial!!!

aspire
aspire

Toby, back at you.

GodHeals
GodHeals

Aspire is such an asset. He always has well reasoned arguments with rock solid nonpartisan sources that are clearly referenced by URL and not just bumper sticker slogans or Fox News labels to stop adult conversations. Opps, maybe I got this backwards?

mzd
mzd

When Walker took office he announced we were broke. Well, despite all the foo-for-rah, we still have a structural deficit, increased record debt, and are facing a billion $ hole in the next budget. Seems to me we are more broke now then when Walker took office. Looks like the next step is to sell off state assets to reduce the increase in debt run up under Walker.

aspire
aspire

Mzd, It just seems to you. You may forgotten the Doyle years.

mzd
mzd

The debt was $10 billion when Walker took office; projections are that the debt will be $14 billion by the end of his first term.

aspire
aspire

Whose projections? Gotcha!

mzd
mzd

I remember them fondly if only by contrast with the current gov.

swarley
swarley

Wrong...there is finally money in the rainy day fund and there is always a structural deficit based on projection. The budget is based on a 3% increased projection. The only way we would have a deficit is if we showed zero growth. Not likely coming out of a recession. Even if we are coming out,of an Obama recession.

deezus
deezus

Democrats have a strange idea of what helping the poor is. Making poor people more dependent on the government doesn't help anyone.

AllAmerican11B
AllAmerican11B

deezus,
"Making poor people more dependent on the government doesn't help anyone."

You do know that there are exceptions to that?

You do know that there are consequences to doing nothing?

Those are just questions to inspire critical thoughts not judgements.

GodHeals
GodHeals

Making poor people poorer is the business of the GOP. Loosen rules on Pay-Day-Lenders and Rent-to-Own slime centers, cut medical care, cut food support, force them to have exploding numbers of unplanned babies to feed to the private sector Poor People Industrial Complex . What the GOP wants is an exploding population of unplanned babies to feed first to Voucher Schools, then to Pay-Day-Lenders and then to the prison system (the worlds largest incarcerated population on the planet).

number6
number6

I invite an explanation from anyone, left or right, to this: we go through all we've gone through, and still we are setting up a structural deficit? Why is an approach to fiscal management which would create a projection of a balanced budget impossible? Too may folks needing their requirements covered? Fine, raise the money and get out in front of it. Interest on debt is about the last thing I want to pay taxes for. Thanks to anybody/everybody who will school me on this!

davea
davea

Please, all you middle income people, don't spend your couple bucks a week, tax-cut, all in one place! Just be careful driving around all the pot-holes, in your existing highways, and watch out for the chunks of concrete, falling from the bridges! How many jobs could be created in fixing this states infrastructure?

aspire
aspire

Davea, get in your car, leave Illinois and come to Wi. And enjoy your tax break.

DrPaul2013
DrPaul2013

Last I checked that is paid for by the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. Has Walker lowered the taxes/fees that would result in "crumbling roads"?

Wis_taxpayer
Wis_taxpayer

No! he took that money and gave it to corporations to create the 250,000 jobs we now have!

midwestguy
midwestguy

And with the stroke of a pen, Wisconsin's motto goes from "We're open for business" to "We're all up in your business". That is, except for the irresponsible daughter of a connected Republican who would rather have their abortion in another state or out of the country where "big brother" can't act watch from the sidelines.

richards
richards

Well you can have our(ILLINOIS) Governor! Quinn is a democrat!

kathy6829
kathy6829

Can't be any worse than Walker and his ignorant minions.

IndependentinWis
IndependentinWis

Do you know how stupid people can be, I do. Many people in central Wisconsin voted for Walker and are asking themselves why he didn't help them keep the huge farm out of our area and why he wasn't apposed to taking the responsibility of high capacity wells from the DNR. They even believe our local GOP rep who said he was unaware that the High capacity well business was even being proposed for the budget. Do these people never read any paper other than the local rag or Fox News. Anyone who had really kept up to date on Walker's beliefs would have realized he is all about getting elected and that means doing what his rich donors ask. Just wait and see how the sale of state property goes. It will be discount sales to anyone who will donate money to the GOP.

tomtom33
tomtom33

Wouldn't that responsibility fall mainly on your State Senator and Assembly person?

snootyelites
snootyelites

Scott Walker is simply the right guy with grit. All the blows fell on the way side and as one Democrat said, recently, picking fights with Walker is a lose-lose proposition. Democrats with career ambitions rarely say anything against Walker and that speaks volumes.

TheRestOfTheStory
TheRestOfTheStory

The comment that you are referring to was in response to why the Democrats didn't try to apply any amendments to the budget. The consensus was that they would all be voted out my the Republicans anyways, so why waste time.

What you're spinning with your statement makes it sound like Democrats in general are frightened of the Governor. So spin is spin and if you repeat it enough maybe others will believe you?

aspire
aspire

No, it's that what Walker is doing is extremely popular with the vast majority of Wi. The dums know what they would propose would never get them re elected.

Harvey
Harvey

Since when does "vast majority" mean 51% when running against a non-existing opponent? You sound like you have been educated at one of his voucher schools.

Kneebone
Kneebone

Governor Walker is turning around this state one gracious day at a time. The unions no longer have their chokehold on Wisconsin's improving economy, job numbers are looking better even though the media (still influenced by the unions) tries to tell us otherwise, and most importantly, I feel like this budget is one that the people believe in. The days of fiscal responsibility are here to stay, while the days of the overpowering, unjust unions are behind us. Raise your glass and toast Scott Walker. He's turning this state around with his leadership which started with Act 10, the best legislation this state has seen in over 30 years.

Nav
Nav

Sorry Kneebone, as you can from reading s the bogs you are not convincing many people in what you say. The people of Wisconsin have seen the state divided for the last three years, they have not seen any jobs created by the Governor, they are seeing their environment degraded. Women are under attack. YOU can try to paint a rosy picture for Wisconsin but people know where we are, and who to blame.

Have you noiced how the vast majority of the newspaper articles about our Governor are critical? Ever wonder why?

tomtom33
tomtom33

The answer to that is very simple, your progressive voice.

philfan05
philfan05

Bhahaha. Probably because the media has an extreme liberal bias, especially in Madison. The Wisconsin State Journal doesn't even pretend to be neutral in their articles.

deernut00
deernut00

THANK YOU Gov. Scott Walker. Very proud of your accomplishments so far, and Wisconsin is, and will be, a better State for all your hard work. We know it has not been easy to stand against the liberal minded who want to live off the others. We, the common people in this State ARE the wealthy. Get it?

Nav
Nav

Every time a couple of people on here feel obligated to "thank" Governor for something, I know they are feeling a bit insecure. Please feel free to write to him privately to thank him. Publically thanking him makes you look very artificial.

aspire
aspire

Nav, I think we're all a little dumber from having read any of you posts. And by the way, THANK YOU GOV. WALKER!

buckthorn
buckthorn

Interesting, Dnut. Would you please detail for us how exactly liberals want to "live off the others", and "the others" who do not? I want to know what in your eyes is a legitimate way to live and what isn't.

Hogzilla
Hogzilla

The budget Walker took over from Doyle was 65 billion. This budget is for 70 billion. As far as anyone with simple math skills can see, this is significantly larger. As a state worker that just got a raise, I am not going to complain here. Things must be doing better as far as the overall health of our economy if they can offer the small tax break, a raise to state workers and meet most of our other liabilities.

Are there pet projects that probably got the shaft? Yeah, there really are. However, I am not mad. I am a middle -of-the roader and I don't hate this. I still don't like the abortion legislation but I don't mind the parts that deals with food stamps.

Nobody is ever going to be 100% pleased, but this ain't so bad.

Jocks
Jocks

As Tommy Thompson said so profetically years ago-"It's a great day to be a Republican." Gov. Walker just made a great budget even better with his selected vetoes. I expect a land-slide victory for the GOP in 2014.

aspire
aspire

I'd have to include, This is a great day for all Wisconsin.

Robert James
Robert James

Do you, now? You're going to stick around, right, so you can stand by those words? "Landslide in 2014".

S54k
S54k

Where did we end up on selling state assets on a no bid basis?

Hogzilla
Hogzilla

I don't think the math came anywhere close to working out on that one. I called around to my reps. to explain that and it seems like the bean counters came to the same conclusion I did.

Comment deleted.
Hogzilla
Hogzilla

Why don't you clear that up for us.

witness2012
witness2012

S54k, the provision to sell state property on a no bid contract stayed in the budget. The only changes were that the JFC has to approve it, and since they've rubberstamped everything else Walker wanted, there will be no opposition, and there must included a "methodology" to explain why this is a good sale.

It's incredibly irresponsible to have it in the budget- prisons, highways, powerplants, etc. can all be sold if Walker decides to do it.

kashka-kat
kashka-kat

Witness, it's not the selling off of stuff that's the issue - there have been provisions all along for the state to sell off unneeded or surplus property of any type, including lands. It's being able to sell it off without any of the checks and balances to protect WE THE TAXPAYERS from cronyism and corruption - that's the problem. Basically, they can decide to sell anything to anyone, for any price.... without any oversight except the rubber stamp. Got a dollar? Well hey here's your power plant.

WHEN are we going to start re-framing our problems with govt not as Reptile VS. Doormat Party issues, but more in terms of honest, ethical govt VS. flagrant corruption, cronyism, and influence peddling Judging by the fact that both Repubs AND Dems wanted increased campaign donation limites - I'm guessing not anytime soon.

S54k
S54k

Exactly! I really want to know walker's reasoning on what possible selling OUR assets at any price, to anybody he choses could be to the benefit of the people of Wisconsin. Unfortunately he never has town hall meetings, open press conferences or even public budget signings. His track record on what he's up to is very suspect (drop the bomb, divide and conquer) Why is this guv afraid to meet with the people he's supposedly represents? I'm really worried.

Crow Barr
Crow Barr

Did he have his name penned on his palm so he could get the spelling correct?

pikerover
pikerover

It's the ALEC way geo

geo_
geo_

Interesting, a tax cut that favors the wealthy is in the budget, an expansion of the school voucher system that be benefits the wealthy is in the budget, an expansion of Medicaid that would favor the poor is not in the budget.......Go Figure

Lynne4300
Lynne4300

geo
some of the people will go on to the Obamacare (the law of the land), and which YOU probably voted for. Why is that bad?

The voucher system has a very small expansion, however there was an additional $322 Million for public schools.

aspire
aspire

Geo, Everyone benefits by the tax cuts. EVERYONE! Is that so hard for you to understand?

RatKiller
RatKiller

Yes, it's hard for me to understand. Tax cuts are called spending when you must cut other things - public services that everyone uses - to get them. How much of a tax cut did you get? Is your tax cut worth what you will lose because everyone like you got one? If you don't know the answer to that question, you're in no position to offer anything of value to the conversation about fiscal realities in WI. We are far worse off now than two years ago. Period.

aspire
aspire

Ratkiller, How will the tax cuts negatively impact you? If you can't answer your in no position to offer anything.

kathy6829
kathy6829

Aspire - go back to your English class - it's "you're" NOT "your". It doesn't appear that you are in any postion to offer anything intelligent either.

witness2012
witness2012

Aspire, nobody benefits if we create a $500,000 structural deficit for the next budget because we had to give everyone a tax cut in this one.

For low income residents, what they lose in services under this budget will not be made up by giving them an extra $30-50 a year.

koala
koala

By your logic, the best situation is no tax, no service. Truly convincing ... for four-year-olds.

tomtom33
tomtom33

Can you cite one person who advocates no taxes?

GodHeals
GodHeals

Who benefits? No one if we get a 650 million tax cut that results immediately in a 500 million deficient the next budget cycle. Which in turn will be the GOP will say "we need to cut more things out of the budget" . Then the slash things that help the majority of Wisconsin Citizens to a point they offer another tax cut that must be paid for by more cuts then ...................repeat............repeat.................repeat.

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