Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders reach deal to end monthlong budget impasse

Republican legislative leaders have reached a deal on a new state budget that drops a financing plan for a new Milwaukee Bucks stadium and changes to the prevailing wage law, co-chairs of the Legislature's budget committee said Tuesday.

Continue Reading Below

Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling told The Associated Press that both of those issues — which had contributed to a monthlong delay on passing the budget — will be taken up later as separate bills, perhaps in a special session.

The deal to be announced formally Wednesday also includes agreement on how to distribute cuts in road funding, the third major issue stalling budget passage, Nygren said.

GOP Gov. Scott Walker wanted to borrow $1.3 billion for roads, but lawmakers balked, saying that was too high. Legislative leaders had talked about cutting $800 million from roads borrowing, but Nygren said the final agreed upon amount will be less than that.

Nygren says the deal on roads cuts is "pretty consistent" with what Assembly Republicans had wanted. They did not want to protect the Zoo Interchange near Milwaukee from cuts out of fear that would mean rural projects would take bigger hits.

"We're pretty happy with the parameters," Nygren said.

Continue Reading Below

Nygren and Darling were to join with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to release details of the plan at a Capitol news conference Wednesday, the first day of the new budget year.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee will meet Thursday to approve the deal, with the Senate and Assembly moving quickly to vote on it next week.

"If we have enough votes to pass the budget right now, we need to do it," Darling said.

The deal was reached after Republican senators met behind closed doors for five hours Tuesday.

Assembly Republicans had unveiled a plan Monday to scale back the prevailing wage, which sets minimum salaries for construction workers on public projects. But Senate Republicans were discussing a more aggressive approach that would repeal the prevailing wage for all local projects.

Not including that in the budget delays debate on the issue perhaps until the fall.

Republicans also raised concerns about a $500 million financing plan for a new Bucks stadium that relied on $250 million from taxpayers. Taking that out of the budget also complicates and delays its passage.

Announcement of a deal is good news for Walker, who was expected to officially launch his run for president as soon as July 13. Walker would prefer the budget be done by then.

Walker originally said he would make no announcement about his presidential ambitions until after he has signed a budget into law. But as the stalemate drew out, Walker hedged on that promise.

It's not unusual for the Legislature not to reach a deal by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Ten of the 19 budgets passed since 1977 didn't get done until July or later. But fast action was anticipated this year, given that the budget passed on time in 2011 and 2013 under Walker, and Republicans returned to the Capitol this year with larger majorities than before.

Unlike the federal government and some neighboring states, Wisconsin's spigot of money does not get turned off if there is no budget when the calendar flips to July. Instead, current spending continues until the Legislature comes up with a new budget.

___

Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP