Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he’s hopeful the next two-year state budget will be worked out by the traditional deadline of July 1.
“The state Senate continues to plow through each and every topic that is part of the state budget,” Fitzgerald said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
“I’m hopeful that we can kind of bring this thing back together, get the Finance team up and running again, and conclude somewhere around the first of July.”
The Republican-led Assembly has differences with the Senate and Gov. Scott Walker on key issues like K-12 education funding and transportation spending; the Joint Finance Committee canceled two meetings last week. Fitzgerald said he isn’t sure “what they are holding out for.”
“I was a little surprised they kind of walked away from the table this past week,” he said.
“It appears the Assembly is at odds with some of the things Gov. Walker has made pretty much paramount in his career,” Fitzgerald said, citing the governor’s desire to hold the line on property taxes and his opposition to a hike in the gas tax.
Fitzgerald said the Senate is more aligned with the governor.
On transportation funding, Fitzgerald said open road tolling could generate billions of dollars and should be “part of the discussion.”
Ahead of President Trump’s planned visit to Wisconsin tomorrow to help Gov. Scott Walker raise money, Fitzgerald said Trump retains support in pockets of the state.
Gousha asked Fitzgerald what he thought about Trump’s performance, given the Russia investigation and the testimony last week of former FBI Director James Comey.
“I hear from constituents all the time that love it that he’s shaking up D.C.,” said Fitzgerald, an early Trump supporter. “They are not bothered by it. If you get anything, they say, ‘Boy I wish he wouldn’t tweet as much.’ But other than that, people are still, those that supported him are saying he’s doing exactly what we expected him to do — shake up D.C.”
Also on the program, UW-Madison associate professor Dave Vanness discussed a bill that would punish students who disrupt speakers on campus.
Vanness said some faculty members are growing concerned about the reach of the bill known as the “Campus Free Speech Act.”
“I’m getting really concerned that it has the potential to really change the climate to one of outright fear on campus,” he said.
Vanness cited a clause in the proposed bill that would require UW schools to remain neutral on public policy controversies.
“What if a student in a geology class maintains the earth is 6,000 years old? Can that be corrected by a professor?” he asked in reference to one GOP lawmaker.
He also said the bill’s requirement that the Board of Regents appoint a “council on free expression” was troubling.
“That has kind of an Orwellian ring to it. It really raised my hackles a bit,” he said.
And Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns explained why he will be running as an unapologetic progressive in the race next year.
“I’m running a different type of race because I think values, and knowing about a candidate’s values, is essential for voters to know in order to evaluate a candidate,” said Burns, a Madison-area attorney who could be one of two challengers to conservative Justice Michael Gableman.
“I want voters to have a comfort level with me as a candidate, and the only way they get it, that comfort level, is knowing where I stand on issues,” he said.
See more from the show: