Vos, Darling comments show continuing divide among GOP on borrowing

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Wednesday continued to dig in on his insistence that Senate Republicans need to agree to no new bonding for transportation in the state budget if his caucus has to accept there won’t be a revenue upper for road work.

But JFC Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said no new bonding would shut down projects in southeastern Wisconsin and hurt economic development. She singled out the north leg of the Zoo Interchange, I-94 north-south and I-94 east-west as projects that need funding in the upcoming budget to keep the state’s economy on track.

“I don’t get his endgame,” Darling told WisPolitics.com in a phone interview. “I understand he’s saying he wants a new revenue source that the guv has said he will veto. So that’s a non-starter. I don’t understand why he doesn’t get that.”

Vos told WisPolitics.com this week the Assembly has accepted there won’t be new revenues, a message he again delivered to Capitol reporters Wednesday after meeting with Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

“I have accepted the reality that they don’t want to raise revenue,” he said today. “They need to accept the reality that we’re not going to borrow and spend.”

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The exchange shows the continuing divide between the two GOP caucuses on a key issue to finishing the state budget, which is almost two weeks late. Wisconsin is one of five states that have not yet enacted a budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

Senate Republicans have continued to ratchet down their target bonding number over the next two years. At one point Fitzgerald mentioned $850 million before dropping that to $750 million last week. On Wednesday, Darling, R-River Hills, said the caucus is now looking at $712 million, though she said that could change. She said the final number would not come in above $750 million and some of it would include general obligation bonding, which would not rely on transportation revenue to pay off the debt.

About $300 million of the borrowing her caucus is considering would go toward mega projects in southeastern Wisconsin, she said.

Both Darling and Vos insist they’re ready for the Joint Finance Committee to meet on topics the two sides can agree on.

But they also suggested it was the other house that was an issue in making that happen.

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