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Walker vetoes delay of prevailing-wage repeal, plans to sign budget on Thursday (UPDATE)

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker issued 99 partial vetoes of parts of the state’s $76 billion budget on Wednesday, including a provision that would have put off the elimination of the state’s prevailing wage laws until next year.

Walker issued the vetoes a day before he planned to sign the budget into law. Many of the vetoes, described in a 25-page letter, were technical. Some, though, were substantial. They included one that would have delayed the elimination of the state’s prevailing-wage laws until Sept. 1, 2018.

Walker instead followed through on his promise to reluctant Republican senators last week to make the repeal immediate. The elimination of Wisconsin’s remaining prevailing-wage laws for state projects comes on top of the Legislature’s repeal, in 2015, of the pay requirements for local projects.

Elsewhere, the governor vetoed a provision that would have allowed low-spending public school districts to raise more money.

Walker said the change would have let schools increase property taxes beyond current limits without first getting the approval of the voters.

The provision was spearheaded by the Republican co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, Rep. John Nygren.

It would have increased the maximum that low-spending, mostly rural, districts can spend using a combination of local property taxes and state aid from $9,100 per student to $9,300 this year and to $9,400 the next.

The increased spending would have been paid for with a mix of state aid and higher local property taxes.

Nygren did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he had talked with Walker about his veto plans, but declined to reveal details of what he deemed “private conversations.” Vos also said it was “way too early” to say whether the Assembly would attempt any override votes.

The Republican-controlled Legislature hasn’t attempted any veto overrides since Walker took office in 2011.

The budget passed the Republican-controlled Legislature on Friday, 11-weeks after the July 1 due date. Adoption by Walker on Thursday would make this budget the most past due since the one adopted in 2007, when the Legislature was under split control. That year, then-Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed the state’s budget on Oct. 26.

The budget this year was delayed because of intra-party fighting among Republicans who couldn’t agree on several big issues, including how to come up with the $1 billion needed to keep various transportation projects on schedule. Ultimately, they decided in large part to follow Walker’s plan to borrow more and delay projects.

Vos said that although the process of passing the budget was frustrating, the end product is good. The budget sends $639 million more to K-12 schools, an increase of nearly 6 percent, and freezes tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses, reduces taxes on smaller businesses and slightly lowers property taxes.

It also raises fees on electric and hybrid car owners to help pay for road construction projects, eliminates the alternative minimum tax which primarily benefits the wealthy and expands enrollment in the private-school voucher program

Democrats have assailed the budget as not doing enough to help schools or the middle class.

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