Vos: 'We are done negotiating' on local government funding bill, Evers still 'optimistic' on finding compromise
MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- After months of negotiating, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is calling it quits on future meetings to discuss a massive bill aimed at increasing funding for local governments.
"There's been arguments. There's been compromises…but we are done negotiating," Vos said.
Before debating the bill Wednesday night, Assembly Republicans announced minor changes to it after Gov. Tony Evers threatened to veto the proposal two weeks ago.
But it appears the governor is not pleased with their offer after hours earlier indicating he looked forward to continuing negotiating in hopes of finding compromise.
Britt Cudaback, Evers' spokeswoman, said nothing has changed since the governor's statement this morning.
"The governor hasn’t signed off on any amendment, but he looks forward to continuing negotiations with Republican leaders in the weeks ahead," Cudaback said.
Democrats criticized Assembly Republicans' amendment to the bill that keeps a series of restrictions and policy proposals in it, such as limiting how Milwaukee can spend new revenue and allowing the city and county to raise their sales tax, if approved by voters.
If passed, Milwaukee could levy a 2% sales tax while Milwaukee County could add a 0.375% sales tax on top of its current 0.5% tax.
During debate on the proposal, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) said the bill was "not ready for prime time."
"Our work is not complete right now," Neubauer said. "We are talking about one of the most consequential bills that we will hear all session."
The proposal now moved on to the Senate where even more changes could take place. It's unclear where Senate leaders stand on the bill. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu did not respond to a request for comment.
Many provisions stayed in the bill, but some tweaks were added under the amendment, including an even larger funding boost to counties, cities, towns and villages. It would increase by at least 15% for every municipality to pay for police, fire, EMS and other essential services, totaling $261 million.
For Milwaukee, they would only see a 10% increase, but Vos said that was because they'll be able to make up the difference by having the ability to raise revenues through a sales tax.
Additional changes to the bill include:
-Only allow local governments to hold advisory referendums on capital projects funded by taxpayers, for example to pay for school improvements and infrastructure projects. The bill previously banned all advisory referendums.
-Prohibit local health officers from requiring businesses to close in response to an outbreak or epidemic for longer than 30 days, instead of 14 days under the original bill. It also specifies that health officials cannot make these determinations based on essential and nonessential businesses.
-Clarifies any crime committed on school property must be reported if the incident occurred before or after school hours, including a school field trip, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday - Friday.
-With regard to hiring 25 school resource officers at Milwaukee Public School, the amendment would require officers complete a 40-hour training course