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Quick vote sees Assembly approve two-year state budget

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MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - In an unusual move, the Wisconsin Assembly passed the proposed two-year state budget without much of a debate.

The abrupt vote was 55-42.

Minority Democrats did not offer any amendments. Minority Leader Peter Barca says it became clear Republicans were not open to changing the $70 billion spending package.

Included in the budget, is the statewide expansion of the school choice program – along with a $650 million income tax cut, a refusal to take new federal Medicaid funds under Obamacare, a two-year UW tuition freeze, allowing private parties to buy certain state-owned buildings, a return of bail bondsmen, and forcing arrested felons to give DNA samples to police before they know if they’re convicted.

Majority Republicans met longer behind closed doors than expected over the past two days.

Late Wednesday morning, the lower chamber also approved two dozen last-minute changes to the budget.

They included the scrapping of new limits on property tax breaks for disabled veterans – and a one-year delay on making it easier for mega-dairies to get permits for high capacity water wells.

Two other changes were scrapped by Republican leaders earlier. One would have restricted access by protestors on public lands near the Gogebic Taconite mining site in Iron and Ashland counties. GOP leaders also changed their minds about measures that would have let 750 additional Racine area residents get state vouchers to attend private schools.

The state Senate will now take up the budget plan on Thursday.

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