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Wisconsin GOP Leaders Work to Push Through Budget Impasse

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr
Lawmakers continue to hash out details of proposed state budget

One of Wisconsin’s legislative leaders seems to want to shake his Republican colleagues into action. The Legislature has been at an impasse for weeks over the state budget. 

The GOP majority is stuck on three issues - transportation funding, the prevailing wage and a new Bucks arena. On Monday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos introduced a plan to partially roll-back the prevailing wage. It sets minimum salaries for certain public works projects. And as WUWM’s LaToya Dennis reports, Vos released details of an arena funding plan and claimed he has the votes in the Assembly to approve it.

The original goal was to pass the state budget by the end of June.

“We’re certainly not going to meet that deadline,” Vos says.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says a lot of negotiating has been going on behind the scenes. He’s hopeful that the Legislature’s budget committee could act before the holiday weekend.

“We’re literally at 30 days since finance last met. So I feel good that we’re making progress, I really do. I’m not just saying that. I honestly believe that we can find an answer by the end of the week, but we also have to have some sort of deadline (so) that we’re not just sitting here staring at each other for months on end,” Vos says.

When it comes to the arena issue, Gov. Walker wanted the state to kick in $220 million--nearly half the expected cost.

Lawmakers quickly shot down that idea. The draft Vos made public on Monday calls for the state to finance $55 million, with local communities picking up the rest of the public share. Tim Sheehy is president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. It supports a new arena. Sheehy told Channel 12 that legislators have to get this right.

“We’ve seen bigger issues frankly than the Bucks arena with transportation and the prevailing wage. The caution I have is if we don’t get transportation just right, we can fix it in the future, if prevailing wage doesn’t get resolved exactly as it could, we can resolve that in the future, if we miss this opportunity, there’s no do over with the arena,” Sheehy says.

Legislators have also been hearing from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity. Wisconsin Director Eric Bott told the TV station that he does not want public money financing an arena for an NBA team.

“The government is proposing to socialize risk and privatize profits, and that’s not the proper role of government, and it’s not a responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” Bott says.

While the Assembly GOP leader insists he has the votes needed to advance several budget items in his house, Republicans in the state Senate are expected to caucus later today.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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