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Politics & Government

Walker Signs State Budget in Waukesha, 24 Hours Before Announcing His White House Bid There

Gov. Walker signed a $72 billion, two-year spending plan into law for  Wisconsin on Sunday at a manufacturing plant in Waukesha, as he prepares to launch a bid for the Republican nomination for president. He will make his announcement at the Waukesha Expo Center late Monday.

In signing the dense budget bill into law, Walker said it is all about keeping taxpayers first. He says his actions lower the average property tax bill, freeze UW System tuition for two more years, put resources into working training and require drug testing for many people receiving public benefits.

The governor praises the budget's expansion of the state's school voucher program, brags that overall state bonding is at a 20-year low and says the package will help local governments hold down spending on construction projects by repealing local prevailing wage ordinances. They set minimum wages for contracted public works projects.

Walker issued several dozen vetoes. One item legislators had added; it would have allowed payday lenders to offer new services to customers, such as insurance.  

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin released about Walker's budget and veto decisions, stating in part, "From attacks on the ability of workers to earn a fair wage to under-funding our public schools and ignoring needed investments in infrastructure while kicking the can down the road with more and more debt, everything about this budget flies in the face of what actually works for creating economic opportunity for all. So contrary to Scott Walker’s statement that his budget ‘puts the taxpayers first,’ this budget is Walker for President propaganda that puts Walker’s political ambitions ahead of what’s best for our middle class."

Walker indicated early on that he wanted to sign the state budget into law before announcing his presidential ambitions. He met his goal by about 24 hours. The Republican-controlled Legislature had trouble agreeing on several issues heading into the new fiscal year and pulled one contentious issue out of the budget several days ago - Walker's plan to help finance a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Another issue that stalled quick budget passage was the question of how much to scale back the amount of borrowing the governor wanted to do to keep transportation projects bustling. The Legislature reduced the amount of bonding from $1.3 billion to about one billion.