Of course it passed. The surprise is how many Democrats supported the Republicans proposals. It seems that more than a few Democrats realize that they will have to answer to their constiuents, if they fail to fund the schools and protect the taxpayers.
In a sign that increasingly restless legislators are demanding a state budget, the Assembly today overwhelmingly passed a bill that would fund two of the most expensive programs - public schools and local governments - for the next two years.
Democrats, who control the state Senate, have promised to not take up the bill passed by the Assembly. Instead, they want to wait instead until a compete budget is negotiated and sent to Gov. Jim Doyle. That package would fund health care, transportation, prisons and the University of Wisconsin System.
But the 70-27 Assembly vote - with 50 Republicans and 20 Democrats voting for it - put new pressure on the eight-member committee of legislative leaders that has met since July 25, but failed to break the impasse over the spending year that started July 1. The committee is scheduled to meet again Wednesday.
"This (vote) could be catalyst for us to work together," said Democratic Rep. Jim Kreuser of Kenosha.
Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) said the separate funding bill for schools and local governments, which make up more half of all state government general-fund spending, was necessary to put limits on the December property tax bills on homes.
"We will have completed over half the state budget with this bill," Huebsch said.
A second bill that passed 52-45 would limit the 2008 tax levies of local governments to 2%, or the percentage increase caused by new construction, whichever is greater. Those levy limits expired early this year.
Now the real grown up choices have to made. Will the Senate Democrats fund schools and protect the taxpayers from a $600 million tax increase?