Joint Finance Committee questions Governor's budget proposal - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Joint Finance Committee members question Governor's budget proposal

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Both Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns over parts of Governor Walker's budget proposal at the Capitol Tuesday.

The man whose agency crafted that budget had to defend it in front of the Joint Finance Committee.

Staffers for Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch wrote the budget and he was first up to answer questions about some of its more controversial provisions.

Democrats were ready to pounce, saying the budget contains more of the same failed policies that have led Wisconsin to be 44th in job creation since 2011.

"We're doing worse than our surrounding states and I agree with Representative (John) Nygren that we ought to be rooting for Wisconsin and we all do.  But I'm concerned that the policies of this administration are taking us in the wrong direction," Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) told Secretary Huebsch.

"It is clear that Wisconsin over the last couple of years has created tens of thousands of jobs in this state," responded Huebsch.  "That is in stark contrast to the three years leading up to this administration when in Wisconsin we lost 130,000 or more jobs."

Republicans applauded the job creation aspects of the budget, but questioned the addition of more than 700 state employees.

"I don't think you probably put on your brochure that we're going to grow the size of government.  So that's a concern that a lot of our colleagues have," said Rep. Nygren (R-Marinette).

Republicans also want to know why there is so much borrowing projected for Department of Transporation projects.

"You can do those now or you can wait and have to do those later," said Huebsch.  "Do it when they're on sale.  Do it when you can borrow the money and pay it back at sometimes we've seen the lowest rates in history.

And members of both parties questioned the wisdom of selling state-owned power plants to private entities.

"To the best extent that we are able to get dollars for it that would make sense for us in the state to make sure that we're gonna continue to be able to get that energy in a cost efficient manner, but we can divest ourselves of the risk and the cost of those plants then that's the direction we'll go," said Huebsch.

The Joint Finance Committee only took testimony from department heads today.  Separate public hearings will be scheduled in the near future.

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