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Robin Vos, John Nygren (copy) (copy)

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, speaks during a press conference held by Republican members of the chamber at the state Capitol in Madison, May 6.

After a bomb threat, an impromptu beer summit and more than 10 hours of debate, the Wisconsin Assembly passed the state budget on a 52-46 vote. 

The $70 billion, two-year spending plan is now Gov. Scott Walker's to modify with his powerful veto authority, and ultimately sign. No word has been given on when that might occur, but the governor plans to formally announce his candidacy for president on Monday.

For months, he has said he won't announce his intentions for 2016 until the budget is signed. It's still possible for him to uphold that pledge, but it'll require a tight turnaround.

Republicans say they're proud of the plan because it lowers property taxes, doesn't raise income taxes and lessens the cuts to K-12 and higher education proposed in Walker's budget. 

They also touted its preservation of SeniorCare, the prescription drug program on the chopping block under Walker's proposal. 

"They took a budget that was tough, and they made it better," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said of his colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee, which finished its work on the budget last week after a month-long stalemate over transportation funding, prevailing wage and a proposal to publicly finance part of a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Vos said the budget is good for "Wisconsin taxpayers, Wisconsin families and Wisconsin's future." 

But Democrats argued just the opposite, saying Republicans favored voucher schools at the expense of public education, didn't do enough to protect the state's long-term care programs and made moves to weaken employee protections and wages.

"There is essentially no part of what makes life good in Wisconsin … that goes unharmed in this budget," said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. "What is most astonishing to all of us here is how they could take this awful budget and actually make it worse, but they succeeded."

Democrats offered 31 amendments, all rejected by the Republican majority.

Those amendments included efforts to increase public education funding, create a student loan refinancing authority and restore cuts to the UW System. Several of those proposals would be accomplished by accepting the federal Medicaid expansion, a suggestion Republicans have repeatedly rejected.

Several other amendments would have removed GOP proposals from the budget, including a special needs voucher program and an expansion of payday lenders' authority.

Debate was interrupted shortly after 3:30 p.m., when a bomb threat led to the evacuation of the Capitol building. 

Lawmakers relocated to The Coopers Tavern, a bar across the street, where some debated and bonded over beers.

"Lots of things we disagree on, but really, a lot of things we agree on, too. One of those is enjoying a beautiful day while we’re waiting for the Capitol Police to finish their job," Vos said.

The Capitol was re-opened about two hours later, and debate resumed at about 6 p.m.

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Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, said he believes Republicans improved the budget they were given.

Brooks, who said on the Assembly floor in May, "We may have a crap budget, but we're going to make it better," said he thinks Republicans did exactly that.

"Now, I can go back to my constituents…and say, it's not a crap budget," Brooks said.

Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, had similar thoughts.

"I personally think the budget the governor delivered was a piece of crap," Weatherston said.

But with the changes made by Republican legislators, he said he thinks it's a good document. 

That's a contrast from Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, who referred to the process as "shining a turd," Rep. Andy Jorgenson, D-Milton, who once referred to it as a "crap sandwich" and Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, who called it "poopity-poop" during a Joint Finance Committee debate. All three lawmakers continue to oppose it. 

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.