Gov. Scott Walker signed his controversial 2011-13 budget bill into law Sunday afternoon, ending a heated six-month battle over the $66 billion spending plan.
Original plans to sign the bill in Green Bay at Badger Sheet Metal Works were scrapped when it was discovered that the company's CEO had served time for income tax evasion. Instead, the bill-signing ceremony took place at nearby Fox Valley Metal-Tech.
The bill features extensions to tax breaks for manufacturers and multistate corporations, which Republicans have said will spur job creation. It will also cut $800 million from public education, $500 million from Medicaid, and $250 million from the University of Wisconsin System, however, will not include and fee or tax increases.
In addition, increases to employee contributions to pensions and health care and the highly-publicized cuts to collective bargaining are part of the bill.
"We can choose to take the easy path and pass this onto our children," Walker said of the current budget deficit to those gathered at the signing, "or step up to the plate and make these tough decisions now."
in the budget bill that he received from the state Legislature, including:
- A provision that would have allowed bail bondsmen in Wisconsin;
- An item that reduces the tax on most brands of chewing tobacco;
- A provision that allows fired Milwaukee police officers to continue getting pay while they appeal their dismissals; and
- A measure requiring fingerprinting for child care providers.
Walker did not veto a provision in the budget that bans beer-makers from also distributing their beverages, even though he had been urged to do so by .
“We may disagree on the issue of the day, but we always find a way to unite and reach out when it means helping our neighbors in need; or leaving our children a better state than we inherited," the Republican governor said in a statement. "The recent debates in Madison found us spending too much time focused on our differences, rather than our similarities. But today we turn the page.”
However, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha blasted the budget and described it as being "out of touch" with the concerns and issues facing Wisconsin families.
"The theme of Governor's Walker’s budget is that the middle class pays more and gets less," Barca said. "This budget will further Governor's Walker’s reputation as the most polarizing governor in the nation.
“With $2.3 billion in tax breaks to wealthy special interests and expanded loopholes that allow out-of-state corporations to dodge taxes, Governor Walker’s budget is lavish in giveaways to large special interests, but out of touch when it comes to the concerns of Wisconsin’s middle class," Barca added.