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Senate approves bill requiring budget earmark list

The interior of the Wisconsin State Senate.
The interior of the Wisconsin State Senate.

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Some of those 2 a.m. state budget deals could be a thing of the past, under a bill approved by the state Senate Tuesday afternoon.

The vote was 30-3 in favor of a requirement that lawmakers not pass a budget until there’s a report on the Internet which lists earmarks – extra spending that benefits local areas, in which the sponsors are sometimes never identified.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau would prepare the report, and it would list all earmark items – how much they cost – and which lawmakers benefit.

Conference committees would be barred from adding earmarks after each house passes its version of a budget.

The purpose is to prohibit spur-of-the-moment spending items in the middle of the night, to round up votes for a budget that often passes before dawn’s early light.

Three Democrats voted against the process – Minority Leader Mark Miller of Monona, former Senate President Fred Risser of Madison, and Lena Taylor of Milwaukee.

The measure now goes to the Assembly.