FILE - Wisconsin State Sen. Jon Erpenbach

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton

The topics change at the Wisconsin Capitol, but the theme is the same as Republicans and Democrats continue to talk about a new state budget: How much more money will the state spend. 

Lawmakers on the state's Joint Finance Committee met again Thursday as they try and construct a state budget. 

The panel talked about local property tax caps, more money for colleges and universities, more money for technical schools, and more money for health services. 

Democrats, as they have promised for months, want to spend more. 

"You're putting money in, we're putting money in," state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said as lawmakers were talking about technical college funding. "We're putting more money in simply because, I'm not going to say we value it you more than you, because I know you value our technical school system."

It was the same thought throughout the latest JFC meeting. 

Democrats pleaded with the Republicans who control the panel to spend more. 

"We're advocating for these increased investments throughout this budget process, not just because we believe that the condition of our community today isn't good enough," Democratic state Rep. Evan Goyke said. "We have a vision of more. A vision of broader, more equal, and shared success."

And when pleading didn't work, Democrats turned to bickering.

"The issue is this [vote] doesn't make up for the devastation that your actions have caused," Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor yelled as lawmakers were talking about road funding. 

But Republicans are sticking to their theme of not spending more than Wisconsin has to spend. 

"The answer to every problem can't be more money," Republican state Rep. Shannon Zimmerman said Thursday. "The answer to every single question seems to be more money, more money, more free money. Money is never free.  And we can't keep increasing everywhere. We have to be thoughtful and strategic in our investments here."

Zimmerman and other Republicans are quick to point to a $1.6 billion structural deficit in Gov. Tony Evers' proposed budget as the main reason why Wisconsin can't and shouldn't spend more. 

"We have to have a balanced budget," Republican state Rep. Mike Rohrkaste said. "The governor has already proposed a nearly $2 billion structural deficit and $6 billion more in spending than the last budget."

He dismisses the idea that those are investments. 

"We're doing true investing on programs that work," Rohrkaste said. "Their code word for investing is spending beyond our means."

Republicans say they will spend more in the next state budget, but they're not sure yet just how much more or where it will go. 

Lawmakers are pushing to craft a new state budget by the end of June.