Excerpt: Lira was joined by a score of middle and high school students urging the committee to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places and raise the cigarette tax by 75 cents a pack.
Others filling a banquet hall at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at State Fair Park told the committee their views on domestic violence programs, pay for prosecutors and public defenders, voucher schools and a host of other issues. Some bore stickers urging the committee to create regional transit authorities. Convenience store owners wore red shirts that said "I'm not big oil" as a way to ask the committee to kill a proposed tax on gas revenue to pay for roads.
The hearing gave Milwaukee-area residents their first chance to publicly weigh in on the state budget now under consideration. Every two years, lawmakers hold the hearings to gauge public sentiment before they begin voting on how to shape the state's spending plan.