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UPDATE: Senate Budget Debate Interrupted by Protesters

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The state Senate's debate of the state budget has been interrupted by groups of shouting protesters.

In what appeared to be a coordinated demonstration Thursday, protesters in the Senate gallery began shouting, "Focus on jobs, not vaginas!" during the debate. Others stormed through the outer doors and tried to gain access to the Senate floor where senators were speaking. They were stopped by authorities before they reached any lawmaker.

Debate was disrupted for several minutes as police detained the protesters. They continued shouting as police took them away.

The Republican-controlled Senate recently passed a bill that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion.

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The state Assembly has passed the state budget on a 55-42 vote.

The vote came abruptly on Wednesday after Democrats surprisingly decided against offering any amendments. Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca says Republicans were clear no changes would be made, so Democrats instead were going to take their opposition directly to the public.

The $70 billion budget would cut income taxes by $650 million, expand private school vouchers statewide and reject a federally funded expansion of Medicaid.

Barca says the budget will hurt the middle class and does not reflect the values of most Wisconsin residents.

Republicans defended it as good for the economy and the state.

The budget now heads to the Senate for debate Thursday.


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