Local lawmakers on both sides agree on some budget issues - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local lawmakers on both sides agree on some budget issues

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- What to do with an extra $500 million?  It's not every day that question comes up.  But it's now being raised in Madison. 

The state budget is projected to have $500 million more than what was planned when Governor Walker released his plan in February.  It's a good problem to have. On Friday, we caught up with some area lawmakers for their opinion on the budget and other issues.

Wisconsin finds itself with a $500 million budget surplus.  Republicans and Democrats WQOW News 18 spoke with Friday both say some of it needs to be set aside in the rainy day fund and would also like to see some of it go towards education.

"We have to reinvest and continue to invest in both our K through 12 education system, our technical college system and our UW-system," says State Representative Chris Danou.

"I would like to see it graduated so those who are spending under $9,000 or $9,500; choose the number, the lowest end, that they receive the $100 or $150 per student," replies State Representative Kathy Bernier.

Governor Walker has talked about another tax cut. 

"If we want to give tax relief, I would rather see us put it into either funding more for education, which will help property taxes or just give direct property tax relief," explains State Representative Steve Doyle.

"If we allow a little more funding for town road aids, that in essence does lower property taxes because then they don't have to go to their property taxpayer to keep the roads up," counters Bernier.

The state's job creation agency has come under fire in the past two weeks after an audit showed the WEDC wasn't tracking the money it awarded to companies or the job creation efforts of those companies once they have the money.

"I don't have a problem with making a nimble, flexible agency," Danou points out.  "But you can't just hand them money and say do whatever you want with it; which is sort of what they are doing right now."

"That is fair a fair accusation on Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that you didn't handle this problem on the front-end which you should have," Bernier agrees.

This week, the budget panel also added a provision to the state budget.  One that would prohibit cities and counties from banning food or drink based on the number of calories.

"I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing in general; particularly in dealing with sizes of thing," states Danou.

"We don't want cities to dictate to individuals what they can drink or not drink," says Bernier.

On this day at least, there was some common ground being reached by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Governor Walker has joined Democrats and Republicans in calling for using some of the money to increase funding for schools.  With Republicans holding the majority, they'll be in control of negotiating a deal with the Governor's Office in the coming weeks.

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