Transportation Funding Final Hurdle In WI Budget Process

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U.S. 41_Lineville Road Interchange_-5231388965399607472
MADISON, Wis (WFRV) The state’s new fiscal year starts July 1, yet politicians on both sides still can’t agree on Governor Walker’s proposed spending plan. It is a $70 billion budget proposal being held up by one major item; how to trim transportation funding while passing around the pain.

On the road to delivering the state’s next budget Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) says it is road construction funding that has put the brakes on the process.

“Transportation is really the final piece,” said Nygren, Assembly Co-Chair, Joint Finance Committee.

For weeks members of the Joint Finance Committee have been in a stalemate over Gov. Walker’s proposal that relies on borrowing, with both sides leery about taking on more debt.

“Neither Senate or Assembly is supportive of the governor’s $1.3 billion in bonding,” said Nygren.

Reportedly last week an agreement was reached to slash that figure by $800 million. The current roadblock is  figuring out which road projects to now cut or delay.

“We’re stuck having to chose between a record level of borrowing or cuts in funding for our roads and delays in major projects that are going to cost more in the future,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).

“Looking to do it in a fair and equitable way and that really is the hold up at this time,” said Nygren.

Nygren says in the past road projects in Southeast Wisconsin – like the Zoo Interchange – have been spared cuts with projects elsewhere around the state feeling the biggest impact. But many lawmakers in both parties, in both chambers of the Legislature outside of Milwaukee – can’t support that policy this time around.

“You can’t ask me to protect projects in Southeast Wisconsin at the expense of projects in Northeast Wisconsin and the remainder of the state,” Nygren said.

In a letter sent to Gov. Walker Monday – 33 of the 63 Assembly GOP members said “budgeting choices should have a shared and equal impact statewide.” Something Nygren says is slowly being worked out.

“We’re very close – we could come to an agreement in the coming days,” said Nygren.

If a new budget isn’t in place by July 1 current funding would continue until a new deal is reached. Government would not shut down.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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