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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

 6:05 PM 

Senate approves state agencies including plans to keep operations budgets flat, reduce them 5 percent

State agencies would have to include in their biennial budget requests plans that would keep their operations spending at current levels as well as one to impose a 5 percent cut under legislation the Senate approved 19-13 along party lines.

Sen. Chris Kapgena’s original bill applied to agencies’ overall budgets. But it was amended to apply to operations, which excludes aids to local governments, individuals and organizations. The substitute amendment also would exclude from expenditures from federal revenues and for debt service. 

Dems proposed amendments to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs, SeniorCare and the State Patrol within the Department of Transportation from the proposal.

Kapenga, R-Delafield, said the amendments were designed to give Dems fodder for press releases slamming Republicans, but little else. He called the amendment on Veterans Affairs “completely inappropriate.”

“You talk to any veteran and they are concerned about tax dollars being spent appropriately, and anyone who’s dealt with veterans knows that,” he said.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, countered the bill would just increase costs for agencies by adding to their workload while doing nothing to “spend money on good programs and get rid of bad programs.”

“This is the lazy approach,” she said.


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