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Jobs, Benefits Fraud Top Assembly GOP Agenda For Next Year


November’s election will determine whether Republicans retain control of the Wisconsin Legislature. The GOP Assembly leader says he wants to hit the ground running.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he's confident the party will maintain its grip on that chamber. He held a news conference in Madison on Tuesday to outline Republican priorities for the next legislative session.

The number one priority is the same as it was in 2011.

“The centerpiece of our agenda is really making sure we focus on jobs and the economy," Vos says. "We want to create a better climate to grow jobs."

Vos says Republicans will again pass bills to reduce red tape for business – and provide tax incentives to help small firms create jobs.

Also high on the GOP agenda is moving people off public assistance and into employment, and balancing the state budget without raising taxes. According to projections, Wisconsin could face a $1.2 billion dollar deficit in its next budget, and sooner, a $700 million shortfall in its transportation budget.

Vos says he’ll push to move public transit out of the transportation budget.

“I think a transit system is important to get people to work, there’s no doubt about that. But, I think it’s more of a social program akin to other things we do to help get workers trained and to a job," Vos says. "I think it would be a perfect way to take that out of the transportation fund, put that into the general fund and free up some money to repair the roads that a lot of those buses ride on."

One person who objects to the Speaker comparing public transit to a social program is Democratic state Rep. Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee.

“If that’s how you feel about public transportation, that it’s a social program, we’ve already seen what the majority party feels about social programs as well as fraud and abuse and how they slowly want to do away with social programs,” Barnes says.

Barnes also criticizes GOP proposals to test people receiving public money for controlled substances and to create an electronic card for public aid recipients. “The benefits fraud is an especially curious piece for me,” Barnes says.

Barnes does not foresee the proposals yielding many cases of fraud. As for what Democrats will push for next year, he cites more money for job training and incentives for companies to create clean energy jobs.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.