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GOP Sen. Steve Nass Says He’ll Vote ‘No’ On State Budget

Nass' Opposition Makes Budget Passage More Difficult

Steve Nass
State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater. Shawn Johnson/WPR

Republican state Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Wednesday he will vote “no” on the $81.5 billion state budget, making it more difficult for Republicans to approve the two-year spending plan.

GOP lawmakers can only lose two Republicans votes and still approve the 2019-21 budget with only Republican support. The party holds a 19-14 majority in the Senate. No Democrats are expected to vote in favor of the spending plan.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Nass said the proposal is “not a conservative budget by any reasonable analysis.”

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“I simply can’t deceive the taxpayers by voting for a budget that creates a significant structural deficit, generates the largest property tax hikes in a decade, contains unsustainable levels of excessive spending and authorizes an extremely offensive new vehicle miles-driven tax on motorists starting in 2023,” he said.

Nass also raised concerns with the size of the budget for state building projects, called the capital budget, which was approved by the Legislature’s budget committee at $1.9 billion.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, responded to Nass’ concerns in a statement, defending the spending plan as a “conservative check on the document that Governor Evers introduced earlier this year.”

“I’m disappointed that Senator Nass couldn’t find a way to vote for the budget,” Fitzgerald said, nothing the senator was “very involved in the process at every step.”

The support from other Republican senators remains in question, particularly Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, and Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, who raised concerns during the last budget cycle that led to last-minute negotiations with former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Lawmakers in the state Assembly and Senate are expected to vote on the budget next week, as leaders have pledged to get the document to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk by the state’s budget deadline of June 30.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he expects the Assembly will make only small changes to the budget before approving it.