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Wisconsin roundup: Budget vetoes eliminate judicial council, education board; 7 more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker, shown here in a 2016 visit to Hudson, is issuing nearly 100 partial vetoes as part of the next two-year budget he's signing Thursday. File photo

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker has eliminated state funds for the advisory Judicial Council, a board that regulates profit making colleges, and a new panel for state prosecutors.

Those are some of the 99 vetoes Walker made to the massive two year, $76 billion state budget package that he'll sign into law Thursday at a school in Neenah. Among other things, Walker vetoed limits on allocating new performance based state funds to UW-System campuses, and the schools will not be allowed to decide their own metrics.

The Republican Walker also vetoed having sex offenders placed near schools and day care centers to keep them in the communities where they committed their crimes. The governor also reduced the amount of tax breaks developers can get for restoring historic buildings, and he wiped out a one-million dollar tax break on broadcasters' equipment.


Free speech or child abuse? Court to rule on mom’s tirade

JEFFERSON — The Wisconsin Supreme Court will decide whether a mother's verbal tirade against her 14-year-old son was criminal abuse, or free speech.

The court heard arguments Wednesday in the case of 44-year-old Ginger Breitzman of Milwaukee, who was convicted of child abuse and child neglect. She was also convicted of disorderly conduct when she gave an profane rant to her son for burning popcorn — and her son's friend heard the tantrum while the two boys were on the phone.

Breitzman contends her trial lawyer was ineffective for not making the case that she exercised her First Amendment free speech rights with her comments — but a state attorney said it shouldn't be automatic for criminal defense lawyers to raise deeper constitutional concerns. The Supreme Court heard the case Wednesday before high school students in Jefferson as part of the court's long running "On the Road" educational program.


Baldwin calls on Congress to renew Perkins students loans

MADISON — U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is calling on Congress to renew the Perkins student loan program by the end of this month.

Baldwin tells the Wisconsin State Journal there's a good chance the program will be extended for another two years — but with health reform and other issues dominating the agenda, Baldwin and other senators want to make sure the Perkins program doesn't expire. That happened in 2015, but Congress reauthorized it a few months later.

If the same thing happens Oct. 1, new students would not be able to apply for the subsidized loans which benefit low income college students. They provide an estimated $14 million in assistance at UW-Madison.


Attorney general, lawmaker weigh in on Madison graffiti

MADISON — Wisconsin's attorney general and a Democratic state lawmaker are speaking out against two acts of what they call hate, bigotry, and "targeted vandalism."

Officials say anti-police graffiti was spray painted last weekend on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial on the State Capitol grounds — and anti-Semitic graffiti was painted Wednesday on a monument near the Gates of Heaven Synagogue a few blocks away in downtown Madison.

State Assembly Democrat Lisa Subeck of Madison urged people to "stand together against hate and bigotry, and let the perpetrators know that anti Semitism is not welcome here." Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel said he was "outraged" to see what he called the "targeted vandalism" in Madison, saying it invoked strong emotions.


Bike federation spun up over state budget

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker will sign a new state budget into law Thursday that's getting criticized by the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation.

A provision was quietly put into the budget to take away the power of local governments to use eminent domain to condemn properties for trails and sidewalks. The bike federation's director, former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, says he doesn't know which lawmaker brought up the matter — and his group had no say on it. He says some trail projects might have to be stopped or delayed, and that could lead to lawsuits.

Walker signs the two year, $76 billion budget Thursday at a school in Neenah. On Wednesday, the Republican Walker announced 99 line item vetoes — including one that would have given more state funds to schools with the smallest state aid levels.


Pence returning to Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE — Vice President Mike Pence is expected to return to Wisconsin next week.

Media reports say he'll be at a private fundraiser in Milwaukee to benefit a joint fundraising effort between the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's campaign. The vice president could also appear at a public event while he's in the Badger State, but nothing has been scheduled yet. Pence's last visit to Wisconsin was in June, when he spoke in Milwaukee to promote a replacement for Obamacare.


Special court treatment for Foxconn may be unconstitutional

MADISON — Several parts of the state's incentives to Foxconn might be unconstitutional.

That's according to the Legislative Council, the state's nonpartisan legal group. It says the biggest concern is letting relaxed environmental laws and other provisions for the Foxconn LCD plant stay in effect while court challenges move through a speeded up process that bypasses the mid level appellate courts.

The council says those kinds of court stays violate the judiciary's constitutional independence. Republicans have tried and failed for years to let some of their most conservative measures stay in effect while lawsuits go through the courts — but they've failed almost every time, and a requirement that abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges never did take effect before the courts struck them down.


Growth in state milk production lags again

MADISON — Wisconsin dairy farmers made 1.8 percent more milk in August than in the same month last year.

But the state's increase is once again smaller than the growth in 23 major dairy states — a trend that has continued for several months. The USDA says Wisconsin made 2.59 billion pounds of milk last month, with the same numbers of cows and an increase in output for the average cow to 2,025 pounds. More than 17 million total pounds of milk were produced in the 23 major dairy states — a jump of 2.1 percent from the previous year. Wisconsin remains behind top milk producing California, which had a decrease in its output of seven-tenths-percent.