The top Republican in the Wisconsin State Assembly says Republican lawmakers will have some explaining to do if they vote against the party's proposed state budget.
"If you're a conservative and you don't vote for this, you're going to have to answer why you are against income tax relief. Why you are against funding for an awful lot of things that are important to Wisconsinites," Speaker Robin Vos said ahead of Tuesday night's vote on the Republican spending plan. "If, for some reason, we would not adopt this budget, it would not get more conservative as we go forward. It would become another Christmas tree, which is something that we do not want."
Vos said the budget crafted by the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee spends more on schools, healthcare, and roads. The budget also spends more on the University of Wisconsin System. There is a nearly $2 billion construction program in the budget. And lawmakers want to give everyone who works for the state a four percent raise over the next two years.
All total, the two-year state budget spends over $80 billion.
"This funds the people's top priorities in a conservative way," Vos said. "And for those of you who are keeping track, we cut the [spending] number from the original plan by more than half."
Gov. Tony Evers proposed $6 billion in new spending in his budget.
Vos is basically admitting that his budget spends at least $3 billion more than the last state budget.
That extra spending is why at least two Republican state senators said last week that they cannot vote for the budget.
State Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, and Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, both said the budget simply spends too much.
Vos said Tuesday that his half of the state legislature supports the budget.
"I can't speak for the Senate," Vos said. "As I look at the people who are with me, we have a lot of people who are not reluctant. Because we are delivering tax relief and we are funding our priorities, all be it with a very liberal Madison governor who is setting the priorities for the executive branch."
And that, Vos said as his final defense of the new state budget, is the point. The current plan get something to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that he will sign.
"Our priority is to pass good legislation," Vos explained. "Gov. Evers' job is to try to figure out how to screw up our efforts and create more spending and higher taxes. What this plan by and large does is it tries to veto-proof, as much as we are able, the ability for Gov. Evers to use his creative veto to go around the intent of the legislature."
Assuming passage in the Assembly Tuesday night, the state Senate is expected to vote on the plan Wednesday.
If it passes, it will then be sent to Evers.