Gov. Tony Evers said he won't encourage other GOP senators to oppose the state budget after two Republicans have already pledged to vote no on the two-year spending plan.
But he continued to decline to say whether he'd fully veto the budget, noting he wants to see the entire document on his desk before making a decision, as legislative Republicans continue to weigh changes to the plan.
Instead, Evers said Thursday his goal remains to "get our budget passed."
"I'm not going to be out there messing with the state Senate," he told reporters at the Capitol, adding: "I’m hopeful that this further dialogue that they’re having, they’ll recognize that no, it isn’t a budget that’s too high, it’s a budget that doesn’t meet the needs of the people of Wisconsin and therefore we can hopefully have a better solution than we have now."
Evers' comments came after Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, became the second Republican senator to express opposition to the plan. Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Wednesday he'd vote against the proposal that cleared the Legislature's budget committee.
Craig Thursday told conservative talk radio host Jay Weber that "as the budget stands, I am a 'no' vote."
With a 19-14 majority in the state Senate, Republicans can only lose two of their members to still get the budget passed through their house without any Democratic support.
Since Craig and Nass are opposed to the measure, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, needs all 17 of the remaining Republicans to get it through his chamber.
The Legislature's budget committee took its last votes on the spending plan last week. But the bill can still be amended on the floor of the state Assembly and Senate when both houses act on it next week — changes that could help secure or win back Republican support.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters Thursday most of the amendments that are being considered are technical and "there’s no substantive changes that I would say need to be done."
But he said one change would be based on language allowing the state to study mileage-based fees. The proposal would require the Department of Transportation to submit a recommendation to the state’s 16-member budget committee, which could then be approved or revised by the panel, rather than the full Legislature.
The measure drew scrutiny from some lawmakers and others following reporting on it after the transportation budget passed the Joint Finance Committee.
But Vos said that wasn’t the intent of the language initially, and the amendment would clarify that approval by the full Legislature would be needed to create new fees based on how many miles vehicles traveled.
Republicans are also looking to tweak the budget to drive down property taxes to a level lower than what they would be under Evers' plan, Vos said.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau this week released a memo showing property taxes would increase the same amount under the GOP budget as they would through Evers' original proposal. The increases on the median-valued home are expected to be $56 in 2019 and $48 in 2020.
Vos said details on the overall figure haven't yet been finalized.
Overall, he said the budget amendment wouldn't "have wholesale reductions or wholesale increases in spending in one area or another, as far as I can tell.”