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Wisconsin roundup: Key Republican senators oppose GOP-authored budget; more state news stories

A Republican state senator says he opposes the 5.6 percent spending increase under the two-year budget drawn up by his party.

Whitewater Sen. Steve Nass says he's going to vote "no," meaning Republican backers of the plan have just a slim margin to get it passed.  The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that another GOP senator, Dave Craig, opposes the budget.

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the budget serves as a "conservative check" on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal, invests in veterans programs and nursing homes, cuts taxes by more than $500 million, and stops a Medicaid expansion. The Senate and Assembly need to approve the budget before it goes to Evers.

Nass is said to be one of several conservatives in the Wisconsin Legislature who often speak out against spending increases. The Wisconsin Assembly takes up the plan approved by the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee next.

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Sheriff: Dead truck driver in I-94 crash a ‘hero’

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling says a double-fatal accident on Interstate 94 Wednesday is the worst he has ever seen. An explosion and fire blocked traffic on the busy highway for hours. The sheriff says one of the two truck drivers killed is a hero because he chose to drive off the road to avoid making the crash even worse. When his big rig left the roadway it burst into flames. Several people involved in the multi-car pileup were treated for injuries.

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Evers orders flags at half-staff in honor of fallen officer Hetland

Gov. Tony Evers ordered that all flags in Wisconsin fly at half-staff as a mark of respect for fallen Racine Police Officer John Hetland on Wednesday.

The order is effectively immediately and ends at sunset on the day of Hetland's funeral. Evers said in a statement, "Officer Hetland was a loving father and son, a valued member of his community, and leaves behind an honorable legacy of service. His heroism and bravery will never be forgotten."

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UW-Stevens Point: Merger benefited state by $671M

Leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point say the controversial merger has meant 671-million dollars to the state economy.

The estimate is based on spending by students, staff, faculty and visitors, plus spending on university operations. UW-Stevens Point joined with two-year campuses in Wausau and Marshfield less than a year ago. School officials say they are very pleased with the impact on central Wisconsin. A study shows 92 percent of graduates from the university continue to live in Wisconsin for at least three years after their graduation.

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New regents president wants renewed focus on research

The new president of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents is calling for expanded undergraduate research and additional internship opportunities.

Drew Peterson says college students are under more stress than ever before and they need access to more support services and counseling. Peterson is pleased the Joint Finance Committee gave its approval to spending one-billion dollars on system building projects.

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Driver arrested for OWI 3 times in 15 days

When a 26-year-old Georgia man pulled up to a police squad car early Wednesday morning, the officer realized David Ndong was intoxicated.

Ndong was arrested for operating while intoxicated — the third time that has happened in the last 15 days. His first arrest was June 4 when an officer saw his car drifting across traffic lanes. Then, last Saturday he was taken into custody for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. He's also been cited by Madison police for a hit-and-run accident.

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Platteville farming accident leaves 10-month-old injured in Platteville

A 20-month-old boy has suffered serious injuries in a farm accident in Platteville.

The Grant County Sheriff's Office says the boy's right arm, right hand, right shoulder, left hand and chest were all hurt when he fell onto a conveyor. His father, James Zimmerman, had been working in his barn and his son fell when he turned to shut the conveyor off. The boy was airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

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Top Dem official wants to leave Milwaukee in good shape

The CEO of next year's Democratic National Convention says he hopes to leave Milwaukee in better shape than it was when the massive event first arrived.

Joe Solmonese spoke at an event Wednesday. He says they're not going to just sweep into Milwaukee, hold the major event, then leave a big mess behind. Solmonese says he also wants to make sure the July convention benefits all of Wisconsin and not just its largest city. He says job postings and volunteer listings will be made public as soon as the complex details for the event are finalized.

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