News from around Wisconsin at 5:58 p.m. CDT
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's budget year wound down Tuesday with Senate Republicans taking new proposals to their Republican colleagues in the Assembly in hopes of reaching a deal on a new two-year spending plan that could be approved next week.
Republican senators met behind closed doors for five hours. They emerged with agreement to take the $500 million financing plan for a new Milwaukee Bucks stadium out of the budget and cut roads funding by $800 million but protect the Zoo Interchange near Milwaukee, said Sen. Luther Olsen, a member of the budget committee.
Assembly Republicans unveiled a plan Monday to scale back the prevailing wage, which sets minimum salaries for construction workers on public projects. But Senate Republicans were discussing a more aggressive approach that would repeal the prevailing wage for all local projects. Olsen said the plans are different but didn't say how.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos were meeting late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the ideas, Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer said.
If the chambers can agree, the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee would meet Thursday, with the full Senate and Assembly voting on the plan next week, Olsen said.
That's a big "if": Lawmakers have been saying since May 29, the last time the budget committee met, that they were optimistic resolution on the final outstanding items would be reached soon. But Republicans have not been able to agree on road funding, the prevailing wage and the Bucks stadium.
While the Senate wants to protect the Zoo Interchange from cuts, Assembly Republicans have said they want to ensure that urban projects aren't shielded because that would shift more of the reductions to rural areas.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin Supreme Court justice on Tuesday withdrew his unusual request asking for his colleagues on the state's highest court to review its decision not to hear an appeal of a felony conviction from a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker.
Justice Michael Gableman filed his request Thursday in the case of Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive and is now in prison after being convicted of misconduct in office.
Gableman withdrew his motion in a letter Thursday, the last day of the Supreme Court's session. Because Rindfleisch has a request pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, he wrote, "that is a better course of action at this time."
Rindfleisch was one of six people convicted in a so-called John Doe probe into Walker's former aides and associates while he was the Milwaukee County executive. Prosecutors accused Rindfleisch of working on Walker's gubernatorial campaign and Republican Brett Davis' lieutenant governor campaign out of her county office.
She pleaded guilty in 2012 to one felony count of misconduct in office and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years on probation. Rindfleisch began serving her prison sentence in April.
The state Supreme Court rejected Rindfleisch's appeal in March without comment. Justice David Prosser, who along with Gableman is part of the four-justice conservative majority, did not participate.
To succeed on his request for review, Gableman would have had to convince one of the three other justices who are not in the conservative majority to side with him.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Major issues that have prevented the Republican-controlled Legislature's from passing a budget on time include:
- ROADS: Lawmakers did not want to issue $1.3 billion in bonds to pay for ongoing road construction and repairs. Instead, they're talking about borrowing about $800 million less. The fight has been over whether to exempt large urban projects, like the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee, or spread the cuts out evenly across the state. Senate Republicans are leading the charge to protect the Zoo Interchange, while Assembly Republicans argue rural projects must not bear the brunt of any cuts.
- PREVAILING WAGE: Conservatives have been pushing for an outright repeal of the law that sets minimum wages for construction workers on some public projects, including schools and road work. Assembly Republicans released a plan Monday that would eliminate the prevailing wage on projects costing less than $450,000. But Senate Republicans were looking at going further with a proposal that would strike the law for all local projects.
- MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Walker, Republicans, Milwaukee Democratic leaders and Bucks officials in early June got behind a $500 million plan to pay for a new arena. Since then several Republican senators have balked at including the proposal, which relies on $250 million in state and local taxpayer money, from being included in the budget. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday released a draft of the bill for the first time, and said he had the votes to pass it. Sen. Luther Olsen said Tuesday that the Senate wants to remove the proposal from the budget and take it up separately, a move that would complicate its passage.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democrats and public education advocates say they want to remove budget provisions that would provide special education vouchers and additional private school vouchers.
Dozens of people gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to blast education funding plans approved in a late-night budget committee meeting last month. School board members, parents and lawmakers said Republicans should reconsider the provisions they added to the state's budget. Democrats from both houses also introduced two bills that would increase per-pupil revenue limits for public schools and increase the rate of reimbursement for special needs programs.
With Republicans in control of the Legislature, the bills are unlikely to get traction.
Jim Bender, president of pro-voucher organization School Choice Wisconsin, says the efforts are meant to decrease competition with private and voucher schools.