Republicans on the legislature’s budget committee have moved to cut borrowing for state building projects by $250 million. Thursday’s action in the Joint Finance Committee came from GOP members who want to lower the amount of borrowing originally proposed by Republican Governor Scott Walker. “This 250 million will add to our goal of significantly reducing the bonding in this budget,” said Joint Finance Committee co-chair, Senator Alberta Darling. “You have to make those tough decisions.”
Darling and other GOP members argued the cut will reduce the state’s debt service, while Democrats questioned the impact on state projects and putting people back to work. “At a time when our economy continues to struggle, we should be taking advantage of some of these low interest rates, and a competitive construction market, to improve our roads, our bridges, our state-owned buildings,” said Senator Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse. “I think this is a step backwards in terms of investing in Wisconsin’s infrastructure and our future, and a step backwards in trying to get people back to work,” said Representative Cory Mason of Racine.
“I am so tired of hearing people tell me that government spending money puts people to work,” said GOP Representative John Klenke of Green Bay. “The truth is that government spending only comes about by taking taxes from people who earn a salary, or by businesses who earn a profit.” The cut was approved on a 12-4 partisan vote, no Democrats supported it.
Walker had proposed 1.4 billion in new borrowing for building projects when he announced his budget. The committee action will cut that to just over $887 million. Also on Thursday, the budget committee approved a nearly $200 million replacement to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s 56 year-old headquarters building in Madison.