Assembly Republican ultimatum on transportation budget would lea - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Assembly Republican ultimatum on transportation budget would lead to construction delays

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Assembly Republicans said Wednesday they have accepted that there will be no new revenue for transportation in the state budget, but want Senate Republicans to accept there won't be any new borrowing for road projects either.

It is a variation on the same theme for Assembly GOP leaders, who remain focused on holding the line on increased levels of bonding for road construction.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has said repeatedly the state cannot continue to rack up more long-term debt, which is expected to account for 25 cents of every new transportation dollar spent by 2020.

But this is the first time Speaker Vos and his leadership group has said they'd be willing to give up on raising new revenue for transportation, if Governor Scott Walker and Senate Republicans give up on more bonding to pay for construction.

That would mean no new spending, which would undoubtedly bring construction on Verona Road, Interstate 39-90 and projects across the state to a crawl.

"It possibly could - that's kind of the Catch 22 we're in, right?," said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), who co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee. "We believe that the reasonable solution is to look to revenues to fund the projects rather than to continually borrow for them."

Cynthia Jaggi, project manager for the Verona Road Business Coalition, wouldn't comment on the internal battles in the legislature, but told 27 News in an email that road work cannot be delayed.

"After almost five years of orange barrels, including project delays, the project is 60% complete. It's time to finish this project!," said Jaggi. "This road construction project has already significantly impacted the businesses and commuters along Verona Road and anything that would further delay this project would be devastating to the businesses."

Senate Republicans originally wanted $850 million worth of new borrowing, but then dropped that number to $750 million last week.

They were reportedly considering going even lower, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Associated Press he would not be willing to meet the Assembly Republican ultimatum and vote on a budget with no new spending.
    
Both sides said talks would continue, but members of the Joint Finance Committee will finish yet another week without gaveling in.

The JFC has not met since June 15 and has much more than just transportation funding to still figure out.
    
"We're willing to come in and take care of education and DNR and DATCP and all those different decision points that haven't been decided yet. We just need to have our colleagues in the Senate sit down with us and figure that out," said Rep. Nygren.

The 2015-17 state budget technically expired on July 1, but spending will remain at those old levels until a new budget is signed into law.

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