No burst of additional money for budget; Assembly roads plan appears to be dead

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t think Assembly Republicans’ plan to fund road-building has any momentum.

Fitzgerald told reporters Wednesday that he believes the best short-term solution is borrowing backed by the state’s general fund. He also says the state should consider toll roads as a long-term way to fund roads.

Assembly Republicans introduced a sweeping plan last week that calls for applying the sales tax to gasoline and moving the state toward a flat tax. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos earlier Wednesday guaranteed that there would not be high levels of borrowing to fund roads.

Gov. Scott Walker has adamantly refused to support any increase in the gas tax.

Vos guarantees no high bonding for roads

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is guaranteeing that the state budget passed by the Legislature will not have high levels of borrowing to pay for roads.

Vos told reporters Wednesday that a road-funding plan that borrows $300 million to $400 million is a “non-started for the Assembly.”

Assembly Republicans put forward their own sweeping plan that lowers bonding from what Gov. Scott Walker proposed from $500 million to $200 million. But the plan has hit roadblocks with Walker and Senate Republicans.

Vos and budget committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren are challenging the Senate to come up with its own alternative proposal to plug a projected $1 billion shortfall in roads funding.

Walker doubles down on no tax increases

Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesman says no change in revenue estimates for the state reaffirms the governor’s opposition to raising taxes.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Wednesday told lawmakers that tax collection estimates made in January would not be revised, either up or down. That means status quo for lawmakers who are in the process of making changes to Walker’s budget proposal.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says the news shows “this is no time to be raising taxes on the people of Wisconsin.”

Assembly Republicans unveiled a sweeping road-funding proposal last week that Walker opposes because he says it would result in $433 million in higher taxes on gasoline purchases.

No burst of additional money for Wisconsin budget

There will be no burst of new money for Wisconsin lawmakers writing the state budget.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported Wednesday that it was not going to update its previous estimates for tax collections over the next two years.

That means lawmakers will have to balance the budget based on the numbers they were given in January. Fiscal Bureau director Bob Lang says in a letter to co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee that the previous estimates “are still reasonable and should not be adjusted.”

Some lawmakers had hoped for higher revenue projections to make it easier to balance the budget. Lower estimates would have made the job tougher.

Lawmakers are trying to plug a $1 billion funding gap for roads while also raising spending on K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said it’s “not a good sign for the economy.”

Erpenbach is a member of the committee. He says the numbers are disappointing but it won’t make the budget-writing task any more difficult.