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Republican committee members seek new strategy

(The Center Square) – Top Republicans on Wisconsin’s powerful budget committee say they are going to have to find other ways to accomplish goals following a state Supreme Court ruling.

State Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, on Tuesday said he’s disappointed in last week’s ruling on authority for the Joint Finance Committee when it comes to the state’s stewardship spending.

“We have to make sure that there’s accountability in those investments,” Born said. “And taking the Legislature out of that conversations is a real problem. Going forward, we’ll have to look at other ways that we can accomplish the similar goals.”

Born, however, didn’t say what those other ways may be.

The court ruled 6-1 that the Joint Finance Committee overstepped its bounds when it withheld money that was earmarked for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

Republican lawmakers say the stewardship program takes too much land off the books, and out of production.

The court said that, whatever their concerns or complaints, committee members do not have the power to control stewardship spending once the money has been authorized to be spent.

Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee say the Supreme Court got it right.

“The Supreme Court overwhelmingly said that what the Republicans have been up to in the Legislature is unconstitutional,” said Sen. Kelda Roys, R- Madison. “They are far exceeding their authority.”

Other committee Democrats said the ruling means a lot more protections for Wisconsin’s conservation heritage.

“This historic decision will help restore the balance of power and ensure our state is working for the people, not against them,” Democrats said in a statement.

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