Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, called Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’s position on transportation “laughable” as he detailed differences between the two GOP caucuses on transportation during an impromptu availability in the Capitol press room.Apparently Fitz thinks the idea of actually paying for projects with real money is “laughable”? And these guys are considering blowing up the Constitution over demands that Congress balance ITS budget? Ohhh, kayyy.
Vos, R-Rochester, then came to the room minutes later to return fire, insisting the only thing laughable was the idea of putting more debt on the state’s credit card to pay for roads.
The blistering exchanges came after a 40-minute meeting at the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in which both sides accused the other of breaking off talks.
But then Lil’ Robbin’ decided to one-up Fitz by pulling a pout of his own.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he's willing not to increase funding at all for roads if Senate Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker refuse to consider higher gas taxes or fees to pay for construction projects.This would be a cut to Governor Walker’s budget that comes on top of Walker/WisGOP delays that have already happened for major highway projects due to the last budget’s limits on spending (but not borrowing). Good luck selling “even less road work” to Wisconsinites who are already dealing with enough potholes and construction delays.
Vos said Tuesday that Assembly Republicans continue to refuse borrowing as much money as their colleagues in the Senate are proposing to pay for roads. Senate Republicans have proposed $850 million in additional borrowing but refused to consider higher gas taxes or fees.
And another big area of the budget that was thought to be near agreement might not be that close after all
.@SenFitzgerald: "I'd like to say K-12 is completely wrapped up, but it's not." Negotiations ongoing over voucher income eligibility— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) June 27, 2017
This is apparently related to Vos wanting to greatly expand voucher eligibility to families making 3 times the poverty rate, nearly double current income limit. Because apparently giving a tax break to those families for paying private school tuition wasn't enough, and Robbin' wants those people to get even more of their school costs paid for by taxpayers!
Fitz got so frustrated today that threatened to have the Senate go it alone, and not wait for the Joint Finance Committee to finish debating the budget.
.@SenFitzgerald tells reporters "I'm kind of at the end of our process" on budget talks, will discuss again with caucus passing own plan— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) June 27, 2017
That comment from Fitz about having the Senate pass their own budget and then work out a separate Assembly plan in a conference committee would delay things even further. In that instance, a conference committee would have to reach an agreement on the budget, and then both houses would have to pass the same document.
JFC member Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) seems to be bemused by the GOP infighting, and offered a few “Helpful Tips to Pass a Responsible Budget” for his Republican colleagues if they wanted to learn how to share, and break the budget impasse.
Pass a long-term transportation funding solution to address the ongoing shortfall. As long as transportation funding relies on increased borrowing or delayed projects, budgets will remain difficult. If you continue borrowing, more transportation revenue is spent paying off debt and interest. Plus important building projects in the UW System will be cut in order to manage total state debt. If you raid the general fund to pay for roads, that funding comes at the expense of other state investments like K-12 public education. If you continue to delay projects, those cost increase, the state spends more on maintenance, and the problem will get worse for the 2019-21 budget. You increased fees to fund our state parks so it is hard to understand what is different here. Just fix it.And with the added breakdown in K-12 agreements among the Republicans, Hintz said that perhaps they need to figure out what they really want to pay for, and realize that they can’t have it all in this budget of limited resources.
2. Fund your most important priorities first. If funding K-12 education is truly the most important investment, then start there and pay for Wisconsin’s public schools first. This might mean you don’t have enough money to repeal the state forestry mill tax for $180 million or fund the Governor’s increased school levy credit at the full amount. But if putting dollars in classrooms around the state is really a priority, then there should not be a disagreement.It’s quite the troll job by Gordon, because it reminds us what a mess the GOP has placed themselves (and us) in with this house-of-cards budget. Now with no money lying around to pay for all of these pre-election talking points (and giving a kickback to their puppetmasters), they are lashing out amongst themselves like a bunch of kids who have to make grown-up choices that they are incapable of dealing with.
3.Don’t create new spending programs when you are unable or unwilling to fund existing ones. If you are struggling to fund K-12 education or the UW System’s existing programs, don’t create new ongoing expenses like expanded taxpayer supported private school vouchers for kids that are already going to private school. And reconsider the new $3 million already approved for a new redundant public policy school of conservative thought.
Yeah, I’m thinking we may have to wait a while before we get a budget in place for the next two years, even though the two-year cycle starts on Saturday. And even scarier- what happens if Obamacare repeal actually does become law, and they have to rip up the budget numbers even more?
Maybe we should give the Dems a turn at handling this, both in the Legislature and in the Governor’s chair. Seems like they might actually be more successful in getting something done, and they might not wreck the state’s finances (and cars) in the process.