Headed into what is expected to be 12 hours of floor debate on the 2015-17 state budget, Assembly Republicans were upbeat about what was in it, calling it good for the state and taxpayers.
"Today is an exciting day for the Legislature to be able to finalize the budget that we've worked on so hard since the first part of February," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.
Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said debate would would be scheduled all day, with an expected vote at 11 p.m.
Vos praised Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, for seeing that a partial repeal of the state's prevailing wage law got through the Senate and predicted the Assembly would follow suit. The changes exempt up to 90 percent of public projects from the law, which requires a minimum pay rate for workers on publicly funded construction projects.
Vos also defended a last-minute addition to the budget passed last week by the Legislature's budget committee to bar local governments like Dane County from requiring additional insurance on projects like the Enbridge pipeline. Vos did not say who added it to the budget. But he said that while Republicans support local control, the Enbridge project, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Canada to Illinois, spans the state and it wasn't fair for one county to hold up the project, which had received other necessary approvals.
Vos also said that new rules added to the budget committee's version of the state budget, allowing payday lenders to expand offerings, such as insurance and financial advice, were a good thing.
"I think that in the end, allowing them to have additional opportunities to earn revenues, it's good for everybody," Vos said.