Lawmakers mostly hear support for governor's budget in Green Bay listening tour

A word cloud showing the frequency of words used in the governor's budget address on Feb. 28,...
A word cloud showing the frequency of words used in the governor's budget address on Feb. 28, 2019(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 4:49 PM CDT
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Hundreds of people packed University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's student union Wednesday to express their opinions for the next state budget.

This was the Joint Finance Committee fourth and final public listening session.

Lawmakers on the committee say a lot of work still needs to be done, two months after Governor Evers unveiled his $83.5 billion budget that increases spending on public education, health care and roads.

Republicans on the finance committee say they have some serious problems with the governor's budget.

"He's spending over $1.6 billion more than us and out of the past couple budgets, and he's increasing taxes $2 billion, and he said right before the election he isn't going to raise taxes," Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said.

Democrats counter cuts in property taxes and the spending increases are an investment in areas the state has neglected.

"I can not drive my car right now. It has been damaged because I've been driving around the state. Just driving up here, my staffer's bumper almost fell off his car because our roads are so bad," Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) said.

The vast majority of those testifying before the committee spoke in support of the governor's budget. Many were from organized groups.

"We also have to take into consideration not just the people's voices that come here, but the people's voices back home in the districts we represent around the state," Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said.

After Wednesday's public listening session, the political football is punted back to Madison.

"Negotiations require a solution to be offered. Right now we're hearing criticism of pieces of the governor's budget from Republicans but no solutions. That's not negotiation. You can't just criticize and not offer a solution," Rep. Even Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said.

Lawmakers say they hope to negotiate and have a budget for the Legislature to vote on by the end of June.