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Democrats raise concerns major parts of new state budget

Majority Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly are questioning parts of the new state budget endorsed a week ago by the Joint Finance Committee.

Party members held a three-hour open session Thursday before going behind closed doors to discuss strategy.

Some raised concerns about the new 75-cent monthly fee on telephones, forcing health insurers to pay for autism treatments, and changes in legal liability for accidental deaths and injuries.

Some wanted to know which special interests got their way on certain measures, including one to make school districts give rides to pregnant students within two miles of a school.

Fifty votes are needed to pass the budget in the Assembly.

And with all Republicans expected to vote no, Democrats will need almost their entire 52-member caucus to go along.

Bob Ziegelbauer, D-Manitowoc, has already said he would vote no.

Jeff Wood, I-Bloomer sat in with the Democrats Thursday, but nobody knows how he'll vote.

Republicans have criticized numerous items in the budget, including various tax and fee hikes, and letting illegal immigrants drive with special licenses.

The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the budget Wednesday.

Republicans say they'll offer about 100 amendments.