The Joint Finance Committee co-chairs told a WisPolitics.com luncheon about a number of items in Evers’ budget that they oppose: raising the minimum wage, accepting additional federal money to expand Medicaid and legalizing recreational marijuana.
Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said yesterday they want a budget with fewer broad policy changes, though they do support some specific items in the Evers budget.
They also signaled support for the guv’s proposals to expand mental health care, bring high-speed internet to rural communities, increase funding for agriculture programs and increase public school spending, but they don’t approve of some of the broader proposals such as expanding Medicaid and legalizing marijuana.
The pair also said they strongly oppose:
*$15/hr. minimum wage increase;
*Allowing local municipalities to raise sales taxes;
*Allowing the UW System to receive loans;
*$1.6 billion K-12 school budget.
However, Born said the education budget has increased every year since he joined the Assembly, dropping a hint about at least some education budget increase this year.
Some of those education budget increases could come in the form of incentives to get kids back into schools, Marklein added.
Marklein also said Medicaid expansion isn’t as big of a priority in Wisconsin as it is in other states because of existing state-sponsored health care offerings.
“I believe we do a great job in this state of covering our residents and providing opportunities for them to be covered in insurance,” Marklein said, adding that while Medicaid expansion is one method to improve coverage, “the problem in our state is not nearly as significant as what it is in some other states.”
Born said legalization of marijuana also won’t happen because it is too big of an issue involving too many stakeholders to be in the budget. He said such issues should be discussed in public hearings before a decision is made.
“These are big broad discussions and this is just one example of many of them that the governor put into this budget, where it doesn’t belong,” Born said.
Marklein added JFC is “exploring some virtual options” for members of the public to participate in those public hearings and they will have a similar amount of hearings as years past, but they have not finalized a plan yet.
However, Marklein, who is also vice chair of the Senate Agriculture and Tourism Committee, said he does support Evers’ “vague” proposals to increase funding for agriculture programs. But he added he will be talking to local farmers for input before making more detailed plans.
While Born said he supports a handful of Evers’ budget proposals, he slammed the guv for what he considered hypocritical proposals and putting Republicans in a tough spot.
Born said the new budget puts Republican leaders like himself “in a similar spot from where we were last time, or I would say even worse” because he said many of the guv’s proposals are divisive or “a complete reversal” from previous years.
The Beaver Dam Republican said Evers’ juvenile justice reform proposal reversal from when he first became governor was “a flip-flop.”
“When this governor came into office and his focus was on building Type 1 facilities and things and now in a complete flip-flop, not Type 1s and a whole different direction,” Born said, adding “It’s clear this needs a lot more discussion in the light of day and committee work and hopefully more bipartisan work like we’ve had in the past.”