Closed door talks continue at the Wisconsin Capitol this week, as majority Republicans work to find common ground that will help them pass a state budget.
Assembly and Senate leaders are trying to negotiate solutions for funding K-12 education and transportation, along with a handful of other areas. While he said they have made progress on education, Joint Finance Committee Assembly co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) said they remain far apart on other outstanding issues. “It’s going to come down to, I believe, transportation being the main stumbling block for us moving forward,” he told reporters Wednesday.
A key point of contention on transportation remains the level of bonding the state will rely on to fund road projects. The Senate is looking at a higher level than what the Assembly GOP supports. While he does not oppose the use of any bonding, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said what it is used needs to be within the state’s means. “Our problem is that we have been living like we earn $50,000 a year, when only $30,000 a year is coming in,” Vos said. “At some point your credit card is maxed out, you can’t use anymore, and you’ve got to figure out how do you start to pay back that debt.”
The state’s fiscal year ends on June 30 and, with no meetings of the budget-writing JFC yet scheduled, Nygren acknowledged passing a budget by the end of next week could be difficult. “I’m optimistic, but I do believe that’s going to be a challenge,” he said.