Gov. Walker signs $76 billion state budget in Neenah

Published: Sep. 20, 2017 at 1:30 PM CDT
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Wis. Gov. Scott Walker signed the 2017-2019 state budget Thursday during a visit to Tullar Elementary School in Neenah.

The signing ends a three-month delay fueled by a standoff between Republicans in the Legislature over education and transportation funding.

Before a crowd of students and teachers, the governor touted the budget and its impact on public education.

The $76 billion, two-year spending plan includes an additional $639 million in state funding for K-12 schools over two years.

"There's actually more money for schools than ever before, more actual dollars -- $11.5 billion invested in schools, in K-12 education in this budget -- and at the same time we have lower property taxes on a median valued home."

Those taxes will be the lowest, according to the governor, since he took office in 2010.

The budget also freezes tuition at the University of Wisconsin and makes a major investment in road projects.

"In this budget we take care of roads and bridges. We make a major investment in transportation. In fact, it exceeds $6 billion over the next two years, which means there's more money to fix at the local level, to fix roads and bridges than they've had in about 20 years."

Gov. Walker used his line-item veto power on 99 parts of the budget, including a provision that repeals a requirement that construction workers on state jobs be paid a prevailing wage instead of having it take effect next year.

Critics of the budget include Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, who on Thursday released this statement: “As Wisconsin working families continue to pay more for less, the Republican budget further rigs the economy for the wealthy. This budget was bad from the start, and with his veto pen Gov. Walker managed to make it worse by cutting more funding from Wisconsin schools while keeping a tax break for 47 millionaires.”

Marinette Republican John Nygren on Thursday praised the budget. He released a statement saying, "This budget will continue to hold the line on taxes, direct historic levels of K-12 funding into the classroom and expand educational opportunities for our most vulnerable students."

Nygren sent out a series of tweets Wednesday, critical of some of the governor's vetoes regarding legislative oversight and provisions for low revenue schools.

In a statement, Nygren said, “I am severely disappointed in Governor Walker’s decision to reject an opportunity to correct a long-term inequity in our K12 funding system. As a result, over 200 school districts across the state will lose over $90 million in funding over the next 6 years. The veto will continue this funding imbalance and have lasting impacts on the quality of education available to some of our children. Assembly Republicans will continue to lead, advocating to bring parity to school districts across the state, so that we can provide educational excellence for every student, regardless of where they live."

Incoming Assembly minority leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said, "I was disappointed that the governor vetoed the additional 90 million that would have been there for school districts like Green Bay and Oshkosh, historically low spending districts. When you can do a veto against 90 million in school spending but you can maintain a tax cut for 47 millionaires, I think it's telling what the priorities are."

"It seems like all we got was more earmarks and more giveaways. I mean, we got a $4 million runway to a millionaire's golf course in Central Wisconsin. We can't even pave some of our roads in rural areas," Hintz added.

The Sept. 21 signing of the budget is the latest by a governor since 2007. That year control of the Legislature was split and it wasn't until Oct. 26 that Gov. Jim Doyle signed.