Wisconsin Senate Republicans introduce own version of state budget

19 July, 2017, 02:56 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Walker applauds new Senate budget

State Senate Republicans have announced a budget plan meant to end the 18-day standoff over the state's overdue two-year spending plan, but it wasn't clear if the proposal would satisfy Assembly Republicans who have been fiercely opposed to the Senate leaders' positions on funding for roads.

But Fitzgerald acknowledged, even as he unveiled the plan, that he's not sure if the Senate could pass it as-is.

"My point is to try to get the process back on track, by demonstrating once again that this caucus has been meeting each and every week and there's not that much left to do". "This clearly puts it back in the Assembly's court to develop what their position is".

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' office had no immediate comment but noted a statement would be released later Tuesday.

The Senate proposal contains all the provisions the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has approved over the last few months as it revised Gov. Scott Walker's budget. Efforts to broker a deal between the Assembly and Senate have been largely fruitless.

However, he warned that major interstate projects in the state's southeast corner could be slowed or halted if the transportation budget remains flat. Senate Republicans have sided with Walker in that aspect of the dispute.

Walker's budget called for borrowing an additional $500 million and delaying major projects.

The Assembly doesn't like the idea of more borrowing and wants to find new ways to raise more revenue.

"We have never paid for mega-projects in Wisconsin with cash", Darling said. Former DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb told lawmakers late a year ago that 42 percent of the state's highways are on track to be in poor condition within the next decade unless a funding solution is found.

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Lawmakers and Walker already missed a July 1 deadline to enact the next two-year state budget.

Fitzgerald said he doesn't feel the same "sense of urgency" coming from the Assembly that he gets from the Senate.

"I'm not saying - I don't think anybody's saying - that down the road, there might not be a need for more new revenue", Fitzgerald said.

The Senate proposal maintains the levels of county and municipal road aids included in Walker's budget.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in an email that the governor welcomes the Senate budget because it aligns closely to his positions on road and school funding and tax relief. It also ends DOT studies of future highway expansion projects, including one of the Madison Beltline.

The plan would eliminate 200 Wisconsin Department of Transportation staff positions.

The document goes on to eliminate Walker's $203.4 million income tax cut, deletes his plan for a sales tax holiday on school supplies and repeals the personal property tax.

The structural deficit under the Senate plan would be about $1 billion.


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