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Highlights of Wisconsin’s proposed state budget

By SCOTT BAUER and TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Senate is expected to give final approval to the state budget on Wednesday.

After that, the plan will go to Gov. Tony Evers, who can sign it into law with no changes, sign it with alterations made through his partial-veto powers, or veto the entire thing. Here’s what’s in it now:

BUILDING PROJECTS: About $1.9 billion would be spent on building projects throughout the state, including $1 billion on UW projects. That’s still less, though, than was in Evers’ original proposal, which had called for $2.5 billion for all construction projects.

ROADS: Republicans proposed spending $484 million on roads, less than the $624 million Evers had wanted. The Republican proposal would be paid for with a mixture of cash, borrowing and higher fees. Registering a car would cost $10 more a year and titling a car $95 more. Hybrid cars would also get a new definition so a $75 fee, already in law, could be applied to them. Republicans rejected a gas-tax increase that Evers had proposed.

TOLLS AND MILEAGE FEE: The Department of Transportation would study charging tolling and imposing a fee on miles driven, but no resulting recommendation could be put in place without the assent of the full Legislature.

JUVENILE OFFENDERS: Evers called for an additional $90 million worth of bonding to build new state-run centers to house serious juvenile offenders after Wisconsin’s Lincoln Hills youth prison near Irma closes. Republicans eliminated the provision, saying they want to take up funding for the new centers in a separate bill later this year. Under a separate bill, the closing of Lincoln Hills would be delayed for six months until July 2021. Evers has said he needs even more time.

NEW PRISON: Republicans set out $5 million to purchase land and start the bidding process for building a new prison to replace the aging Green Bay Correctional Institution.

TAX CUTS: Income taxes would be cut by more than $450 million over two years — resulting in average savings of $91 per person in 2019 and $124 in 2020. The lowest tax bracket would be reduced from 4% to 3.76% in 2020. The second-lowest bracket would be reduced from 5.84% to 4.93% in 2020.

PROPERTY TAXES: Property taxes on a median-valued house, one worth $174,000, would increase by $55 in the first year of the budget and $44 in the second. Actual property taxes vary widely, according to where people live and how much is levied by local taxing entities such as school districts and cities.

K-12 SCHOOLS: Schools would receive a $500 million spending boost over the next two years. That would be less than the $639 million they got in the previous budget and a fraction of the $1.4 billion Evers had wanted. Spending on special education would increase by nearly $100 million, a sixth of the $606 million that Evers wanted. Republicans also rejected Evers’ call to overhaul the school-funding formula. Whereas Republicans had said they wanted the state to provide schools with two-thirds of the money they need to operate, the budget falls just short at about 65%.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: The UW System would get $58 million, $45 million of which would only be released after lawmakers approved the university’s spending plan. That’s far less than university officials expected after weeks of discussions with lawmakers and is short of the $150 million Evers had proposed. Republicans did agree with Evers’ call to continue freezing UW tuition for at least two more years. Tuition has already been frozen for six years.

PAY INCREASES: State workers would see 2% annual pay increases in each of the next two years, just as Evers had proposed.

HEALTH CARE: Republicans approved a $77 million increase for the Wisconsin Shares program, which provides money to working parents for child care, $30 million more for nursing homes, an additional $37 million for personal-care workers and $27 million more for direct caregivers in the Family Care program. In total, the budget increases health-care funding by $588 million. Republicans rejected Evers’ call to offer Medicaid to more people by making use of $1.6 billion worth of federal funding.

STEWARDSHIP: Republicans retained Evers’ proposal to extend the Department of Natural Resources’ land purchasing program through mid-2022.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS: Republicans approved funding for a 14% pay increase for prison guards in an effort to deal with staffing shortages that have led to an abundance of overtime.

TOTAL SPENDING: Total spending under the budget would increase by 5.4% over two years. That is less than the 8.3% Evers had called for in his original plan.

TIMING: The current budget ends on Sunday. Current spending will continue until the next budget is signed into law. There would be no government shutdown if there should be a stalemate.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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