Wisconsin Working Families and Middle Class Lose Big as Top GOP Legislative Leaders Flip-Flop Way to Budget Deal

Senate President Mike Ellis Talks Big at the Bar, But Gov. Walker Takes Him to School in Negotiations'

MADISON, Wis. — In his 2010 campaign, Gov. Walker signaled support for a bill to ban the legislature from voting after 10pm because, “… nothing good happens after midnight. That’s even more true in politics.” According to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross it’s too bad for the middle class and working families of Wisconsin that top legislative Republicans didn’t take their Governor’s advice. Instead, they signed-off on a two year budget deal in the middle of the night that includes a flat-tax scheme that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and a statewide expansion of the unaccountable private school voucher program.

Ross commented, “The only thing worse than Rep. Vos’ stunning hypocrisy on budget deficits and 40-year legislative veteran Mike Ellis selling out public schools to the political ambition of Gov. Walker are the actual policies Republicans are poised to inflict on Wisconsin.”

Assembly Speaker Vos has complained long and loud about state budget deficits. Yet he emerged from closed-door negotiations with the Walker administration and signed-off on a tax break scheme that moves Wisconsin towards a regressive flat tax, overwhelmingly benefitting the top earners in the state. According to previous reports, similar GOP flat tax schemes would leave the state with a structural budget deficit of up to one billion dollars.

Equally disturbing, according to Ross, was the sad spectacle of Senate President Mike Ellis, who went from declaring the voucher program “stinks”, to putting state taxpayers on the hook for paying the tuition of children in private schools. As part of the budget deal, more public dollars would go to the private school voucher program and it would be expanded statewide, meaning taxpayers across the state could end up paying the tuition costs for children currently enrolled in private schools.

He commented, “Senator Ellis entered the legislature when Gov. Walker started pre-school. While Senator Ellis likes to talk big at the bar, it was Gov. Walker who took Ellis to school in their backroom negotiations.”

Ross also noted that the damage caused by this budget is not just restricted to taxes and education. The deal also includes Gov. Walker’s Tea Party primary driven plan to take state help with affordable health care away from nearly 90,000 Wisconsinites. The Walker plan, that costs more to cover fewer people, got the thumbs down in public statements by a pair of Central Wisconsin Republican Senators. But, under pressure, they appear to have walked back their opposition.

“Gov. Walker and his big money-backers took GOP legislators behind closed doors, and instead of fighting for public schools, health security for working families and a progressive tax system for the middle class, they emerged with a budget deal that looks out for the national political ambitions of Scott Walker,” concluded Ross.

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.