FILE - Wisconsin State Capitol

The Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's proposed state budget would spend more than ever before. But one of the state's more conservative Republican lawmakers says that's not reason enough to not support it. 

State Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, on Monday told News Talk 1130 host Jay Weber that he wants Republican voters in the state to call Gov. Tony Evers and urge the governor to sign the new state budget. 

"The best thing to do for spending is to lower taxes," Kooyenga said. "Don't send the money to Madison in the first place."

Kooyenga told Weber that he voted for the two-year, $81 billion state budget last week because it lowers taxes.

Top Republicans say their tax cut will mean about $450 million in savings statewide. Kooyenga says that works out to about $203 per taxpayer in the state for the next two years.

Kooyenga is a little less certain though about the $4 billion in new spending included in the proposal. 

"Most Republicans say 'There's a 5.6 percent increase in spending, that sounds like a lot.' But we are one of 14 states with a biennial budget," Kooyenga added.  "So that's really a two-year number. So the spending is about half of that."

Evers proposed a state budget that spent at least $6 billion more, and included a number of social programs like a Medicaid expansion that Republicans said would cost $1 billion on its own.

Kooyenga said this budget is better because it doesn't have any of that. 

But he said Republicans in Madison do realize they cannot simply freeze the governor out of the budget making process. 

"Wisconsin elected Gov. Evers," Kooyenga said on the radio. "I don't like it. You don't like. I think all of your listeners don't like it. But politically we were told, 'You are working with Gov. Evers'."

Kooyenga said the budget is a compromise. 

Evers has not yet said what he plans to do with the Republican-crafted spending plan. He has until Friday to make a decision. 

Wisconsin's governor has a very powerful line item veto pen. Evers can cross out words, or paragraphs, or entire sections of the budget to craft a plan that's more to his liking. But he cannot add spending or new programs. 

Kooyenga said he's not sure if the governor will change the budget, sign it whole, or veto the entire thing.  

Evers would be the first Wisconsin governor to ever veto an entire state budget.

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.