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GOP leaders confident current budget will remain intact

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Republican leaders are still confident that the current version of the new budget is basically the one that will pass both houses this week.

The Assembly is scheduled to start debating the two-year, $68 billion package of spending and new policies. They’re expected to take a break Tuesday night before approving the budget Wednesday.

It would then go to the Senate on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says that what she calls a “technical amendment” is being drafted – but she would not go into details.

Among the main bones of contention among majority Republicans is the proposed ending of residency requirements for local government employees – and new rule changes favoring high-capacity wells at mega dairy farms.

On the Assembly side, Whitewater Republican Steve Nass said Monday he would vote against the budget – but there would have to be 10 other defectors to avoid whatever the leadership comes up with.

In the Senate, Republicans Dale Schultz and Rob Cowles have expressed major reservations about the budget. The Senate leaders can only afford one defector to maintain its status quo.

Among other things, the budget cuts state income taxes by almost $650 million. It also expands private school vouchers statewide, rejects an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, freezes UW tuition for two years, allows state buildings to be sold, and forces those on unemployment and food stamps to work harder in seeking jobs to keep their benefits.