budget

BRAD WILSON / FLICKR

The Racine Unified School District is in danger of being dismantled. State lawmakers put a rule into effect in 2015 that impacts districts that receive a failing report card two years in a row.

The rule allows the worst-performing schools to be pulled out of a district. It also allows the creation of a separate school district. Meanwhile, a second measure would allow municipalities in Racine County to secede from Unified. The debate over what should happen with the district is tied to the two-year state budget that lawmakers are considering this week.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is putting the final touches on the state budget. One of the items members took up Wednesday was an expansion of vouchers for special needs students. After more than an hour of contentious debate, the panel voted along party lines, 12 to four in favor of doubling the program.

Justin W Kern

The Joint Finance committee held a marathon session Tuesday and in the end, advanced some huge policy items. The panel approved a road funding plan that would delay a couple of major freeway projects in Milwaukee County, plus impose new fees on electric and hybrid cars. Lawmakers also rubber stamped a number of changes to the Foxconn deal, and sent the bill back to the Assembly for another vote.

Althouse

At long last, the Legislature's Joint Finance committee is going to decide how to pay for roads and plug a $1 billion hole in the state's transportation budget. The panel is scheduled to meet today to vote on transportation, one of the few remaining items left to tackle, after a long delay in debate over the biennial spending plan. Typically, lawmakers approve the budget before the end of June.

AGCREATIVELAB, FOTOLIA

Wisconsin's K-12 schools are on target to see more money in the next two years – just not quite as much as they’d originally been promised by the Governor.

It was months ago that we first heard about Gov. Scott Walker’s K-12 funding proposal for the current two-year state budget. Since February, Walker has been touring the state, touting a record $649 million increase for state spending on public schools.

Walker has called education a ‘top priority’ for the new biennium.

Marti Mikkelson

Mayor Tom Barrett said an increase to Milwaukee’s sales tax is necessary to balance a tight city budget. While previewing city budget challenges Tuesday night, he told about 100 people at the Zeidler Municipal Building that the city faces a dire budget situation for 2018, and called the current fiscal model unsustainable. 

Barrett said in the past few years, pension costs that the city pays to retirees have skyrocketed while the state has cut back on shared revenue payments to municipalities.

Justin W Kern

It's been nearly a month since lawmakers were supposed to pass a state budget, and discussions remain at a standstill.  The issue that continues to hold up talks, is how to pay for roads.  Legislative leaders are trying to figure out how to plug a billion dollar hole in the transportation budget, without delaying major projects such as the Zoo Interchange.  

State budget discussions remain at a standstill. That’s despite plenty of ideas being thrown around. The issue the GOP lawmakers are hung up on, is transportation. They’re trying to figure out how to plug a $1 billion hole in the transportation budget, without delaying major projects such as the Zoo Interchange. It’s not the first time lawmakers have argued over how to pay for roads. Transportation has been a difficult issue in the past few budget cycles.

Wisconsin Amtrak Service at Risk in Trump Budget

Jun 23, 2017
NateBeal via Wiki Commons

There are two Amtrak routes that run through Wisconsin - the Hiawatha, which carries passengers between Milwaukee and Chicago; and the Empire Builder, which transects the state as it makes its way from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest.  President Trump's proposed budget would eliminate the Empire Builder, and that - say rail advocates - would put the Hiawatha at risk, as well.

Althouse

State lawmakers on the budget writing committee Thursday rejected Gov. Walker’s proposed switch to a self-insurance model for state employees. Instead, the panel came up with other ways to save money. One of those methods likely would lead to an increase in health care premiums for state workers.

Justin W Kern

State budget talks have stalled in Madison, as has happened in the past. Wisconsin lawmakers hope to pass a two-year spending plan by June 30, but it appears unlikely.

The biggest problem the state faces is a $1 billion hole in its transportation budget; Gov. Walker and fellow Republicans who control the Legislature differ on how to plug it. The state collects money through its gas tax and vehicle registration fee. The state gas tax is 31 cents per gallon, while the registration fee is $75 per vehicle.

ADELIE FREYJA ANNABEL, FLICKR

Wisconsin lawmakers are deciding whether to reward UW System schools based on how they perform. And experts say the idea has its share of pros and cons.

Bob Bach

How to pay for roads? It’s a question states across the country are struggling with, including in Wisconsin. While some Republicans are pushing for all revenue options to be on the table, Governor Walker has said he will not raise taxes, including the gas tax, unless there’s a corresponding decline somewhere else in the budget. 

Thursday, some members of the GOP may unveil a new transportation funding scheme. It involves placing a sales tax on gasoline, flattening the income tax and moving away from the state’s Great Depression-era minimum mark-up law.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET.

With the clock ticking, Congress on Friday managed to fulfill its basic function — keeping the federal government running.

The House and Senate approved a short-term measure that funds the government for another week. Lawmakers voted hours ahead of a midnight deadline to avoid a partial shutdown of federal agencies.

Friday's extension gives members of Congress more time — until midnight on May 5 — to try to reach a deal on a spending bill that will last through the rest of fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees have endorsed the idea of a short-term spending bill to keep the government open while budget negotiations continue.

The stop-gap spending measure, introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, would put off the deadline to May 5.

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