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The Joint Finance Committee returned the 2021-23 budget proposal to previous spending levels, which negated over $8 billion in spending increases proposed by Evers.
But the claim doesn’t acknowledge that Republicans also took away potential revenue sources included by Evers.
What’s more, as Republicans put their own priorities in the budget, at least some of that spending will likely come back.
Budget season in Wisconsin is heating up — and Republicans are already clashing with Gov. Tony Evers over how the state should spend its money.
Evers proposed a $91 billion budget for 2021-23 that aimed to expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana and raise $1 billion in taxes. GOP lawmakers on the state’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, which is tasked with writing the budget, removed hundreds of items from the governor’s proposal tied to his key priorities.
The committee also tackled Evers’ proposed spending increases — a move the Assembly GOP lauded in a recent tweet.
"Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee removed more than $8 billion in spending increases from Gov. Evers' budget proposal," they tweeted on May 7, 2021.
Let’s see what’s behind the numbers.
We reached out to the office of state Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, for evidence to support this claim since Born is co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee. An aide pointed us to two documents: a summary of Evers’ budget recommendations compiled by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and a recent motion passed by the committee.
According to the Fiscal Bureau, the governor’s proposal would have upped spending by more than $8.1 billion from 2021-23. The Fiscal Bureau measures increases and decreases by comparing funding to the second year of the previous budget — also known as the base year.
Those increases included $1.6 billion more for K-12 schools and a $190 million boost for the University of Wisconsin System.
Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee voted on May 6, 2021, to return the budget proposal to the $83 billion base for 2020-21. That means Evers’ proposed spending increases are out, and lawmakers are essentially starting the process from scratch.
So, in that sense, the Assembly GOP’s claim is on point — lawmakers did indeed strip out over $8 billion in spending hikes.
But that statement doesn’t tell the full story. Killing Medicaid expansion, for example, deprives the state of an additional $1.6 billion in federal funds, and regulating marijuana was slated to bring in $165 million in revenue. Less revenue usually means cuts to schools and other services.
What’s more, Republicans will very likely put more spending back into the budget, but focused on their priorities — meaning the actions they’re now boasting about are only temporary.
In a tweet, the Assembly GOP said "Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee removed more than $8 billion in spending increases from Gov. Evers' budget proposal."
The GOP-led committee did return the 2021-23 budget proposal to previous spending levels, which negated the increases proposed by Evers. But the claim doesn’t acknowledge that Republicans took away potential revenue sources and will likely put spending increases back in the budget as they draft their plan.
A statement is Mostly True when it is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
That fits here.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tony Evers proposes rollback of Act 10 in budget that boosts school spending by $1.6 billion and raises $1 billion in taxes, Feb. 16, 2021.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, With budget vote, Republicans will create a $3.4 billion gap that will have to be closed this summer, May 5, 2021.
Email from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, May 11, 2021.
Email from Tyler Clark, Office of State Representative Mark Born, May 12, 2021.
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Summary of governor’s budget recommendations, March 2021.
Joint Finance Committee, Substitute amendments to the 2021-23 budget bill, May 6, 2021.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, A health-care change could bring the state $1.6 billion in federal dollars. Republican legislators are uninterested, April 30, 2021.
- PolitiFact Wisconsin, Wisconsin marijuana revenue projections valid, but overly optimistic, May 12, 2021.
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