On Wednesday, the State Senate took the final vote to send the budget bill to the desk of Governor Tony Evers (D). The vote was 17-16 with two conservative Republicans voting against the budget because they felt it spent too much. The Assembly passed the budget earlier this week by a vote of 60-39 with three Republicans voting against for the same reasons. Evers will have to decide if he will sign it in full (unlikely), veto it entirely (possible), or partially veto portions (very likely).
Once the legislature formally sends the bill to the Governor’s Office, he will have 6 days – excluding Sunday – to make his decision. This is a culmination of work done since last Fall the agencies began to formulate their budget requests. After Governor Evers introduced his version of the budget in February, Republicans in charge of the Joint Committee on Finance began to pick it apart. Ultimately, Evers’s 1,100-page product was whittled down to 500 pages.
Here are some highlights of the Republican version:
- Removed $12 million tax on the banking industry from Governor Evers
- Deleted any changes to tax credits
- $500 million income tax cut
- Deleted 8 cent/gallon gas tax increase, but hiked registration fees by $10
Should Governor Evers veto the entire budget, Wisconsin government would not shut down. The state would simply continue to expend funds at the level prescribed in the 2017-2019 State Budget. Republicans have said that if Evers does veto the budget in full they will not return until October to begin negotiating.
Either way, the legislature is not expected to be back on the floor until at least September. The session will likely end in January or February.