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Three Madison area Democrats could decide how Wisconsin spends Fed stimulus

Three Madison area Democrats could have the final say on how $2 billion in federal economic stimulus money is spent.

Democrats are pushing a bill through the Legislature in which Gov. Jim Doyle would propose all the projects and the two chairs of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee would approve them. T

Those two are Rep. Mark Pocan and Sen. Mark Miller, both of Madison.

If either objects, the 16-member finance committee would meet within two weeks to act on the stimulus spending.

It would never get to the full 132-member Legislature - and those lawmakers are not happy about that.

Milwaukee Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, calls the plan "oversight light."

Rep. Mark Gottlieb, R-Port Washington, says it's wrong to have two legislators approve billions of dollars of spending on their own.

But Miller says the state must come up projects quickly under the stimulus law and the proposed system is the only way lawmakers will have oversight.

The finance committee will consider it today and both houses will vote on it Wednesday.

Jim Bender, a spokesman for Assembly GOP leader Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, Horicon, says it's not acceptable to let three Madison Democrats call all the shots.

But Miller and Pocan note that the leaders of the two houses come from elsewhere in Wisconsin and the promise to hear everyone's concerns.