Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s confident an agreement can be reached on the transportation budget, but the end result may be neither side getting what it wants.
“The agreement might not be what either of us want,” Vos said on Sunday’s “Upfront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “That’s the middle ground.”
Vos was critical of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan for the $500 million in borrowing; Walker also proposed a boost in local road aids, but delays for major projects.
“To me that’s not acceptable,” Vos said. “I’m not willing to accept delaying those projects forever. He wants to continue to borrow. So maybe the answer is we just freeze spending in place.”
Vos said while the state’s roads would be made “problematic” under that approach, “at least we’re not putting the debt on our kids that we can’t afford.”
Vos said he is still open to considering transportation as separate legislation to avoid delaying the rest of the budget.
Vos last week criticized the governor for threatening via Twitter to veto the entire state budget if it raised property taxes. But he said on Sunday’s program he understands Walker is seeking to rally the public and said he has been “pretty good” at communicating with the Legislature face-to-face.
“I don’t know if going out there and tweeting at the Legislature is all that helpful, honestly,” Vos said. “But at the same time, I understand he wants to use his bully pulpit to try to rally the public.”
Despite tensions, Vos struck a conciliatory tone in discussing Walker, saying he’s long supported him and has been friends with him for more than 20 years.
“All the good things that have happened in Wisconsin, as far as the political side, he’s been instrumental in making those happen,” the Rochester Republican said.
He also praised Walker’s plan, which passed the JFC last week, to establish drug testing and work or job training requirements for some Medicaid recipients.
He said the plan would help able-bodied adults find jobs to get them out of poverty, and he noted that those who fail drug tests would receive treatment at state expense.
“I certainly think the governor’s plan of allowing you to go into treatment paid for by the state is compassionate, not cruel,” Vos said. “We want to get that person productive.”
Watch the interview:
Also on the program, Lisa Pugh, state director of Arc Wisconsin, said President Trump’s proposed budget would harm those with disabilities.
The organization develops programs and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Pugh said she was most shocked by the $600 million in proposed cuts to Medicaid, on top of cuts already being considered in Congress.
“That is the lifeline program for people with very significant disabilities,” said Pugh. “It’s hard to imagine that a state like Wisconsin, or any state, really can survive a cut of that magnitude.”
In addition to the Medicaid cuts, she said Trump’s budget would also make cuts to employment supports, Social Security Disability, food stamps and other aid to those in poverty. She noted these cuts affect people with disabilities because they are often in poverty.
“It really is the sort of budget that is very shocking to people who support individuals with disabilities,” Pugh said.
She also said because Wisconsin has been efficient with its use of Medicaid dollars, the state would be at a disadvantage should Medicaid move to a block grant model.