The Wisconsin Senate has signed off on the state's two-year spending plan, sending the budget to Gov. Tony Evers' desk, where it faces an uncertain fate.
The $81 billion biennial plan cleared the chamber Wednesday afternoon on a 17-16 vote after nearly six hours of debate, with two Republicans joining all Democrats in opposing the document.
Gov. Tony Evers in a series of tweets didn't say how he'd act on the document, but credited the "thousands of Wisconsinites" whose input shaped his budget request.
"I’ve said all along that the will of the people is the law of the land, and that’s what will be on my mind as I review the Legislature’s changes to our budget," he wrote.
The vote came a day after the state Assembly approved it 60-39 and was rejected by all of the chamber's Democratic members as well as three Republicans, who broke with their GOP counterparts to vote against it.
The plan, which includes some $2 billion less in spending than what Evers proposed, has drawn criticism from conservative Sens. Dave Craig, of Big Bend, and Steve Nass, of Whitewater, over the levels of spending and bonding within the document, among other things.
But the budget ultimately won the support of every other Republican senator, including Chris Kapenga, of Delafield. He announced ahead of the floor session he would vote for it after the Assembly attached an amendment that would allow Tesla to sell electric vehicles directly to consumers, among other things.
The plan features $1.9 billion for building projects, a nearly $500 million increase in K-12 education, a more than $300 million middle-income tax cut and boosts in vehicle title fees and car registration costs. But it doesn't include federal Medicaid expansion dollars and $1.4 billion more in education funding Evers originally requested.
Democrats on Wednesday, who proposed a series of amendments to the budget that were all defeated, lamented the exclusions.
"This budget is a golden opportunity to show the state of Wisconsin that Democrats and Republicans can work together for the greater good of this state, and the Republicans produced a document that is a big swing and a miss," Sen. Jon Erpenbach said.
"The losers are Wisconsinites, and that’s the sad part," the Middleton Democrat added.
Republicans, though, countered their version is fiscally responsible while still making investments in key areas.
"This budget funds schools with more actual dollars than ever before, makes significant investments in health care, and fixes our local roads," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said. "This is a good budget."
The budget includes an amendment that features provisions to "line-item-veto-proof" the document, in the words of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Evers wields the most powerful partial veto authority in the country.
The current two-year budget plan ends at the close of the fiscal year, Sunday. If a new budget isn't signed into law by then, spending continues at existing levels.