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Walker, Fitzgerald Oppose Separate Roads Bill

But The Co-Chairs Of The Legislature's Budget Committee Say They're Open To The Idea

Cars on the road
Gregory Bull/AP Photo

The Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget committee said Thursday they were open to passing the transportation budget as a standalone bill, but the idea was quickly dismissed by Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Normally lawmakers pass a single budget bill that covers everything from schools to roads, but with Republicans still deeply divided on road funding, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said a standalone transportation budget could get Democratic votes.

“I think if we take it out, do it now, put options on the table, it could help because transportation should be a bipartisan effort,” Darling said.

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Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, the other co-chair of the budget committee, told reporters he was also open to the idea.

But shortly after Darling and Nygren suggested the idea, aids to Walker and Fitzgerald weighed in against it.

“Sen. Fitzgerald strongly opposes this approach,” said Fitzgerald spokeswoman Myranda Tanyk.

“There’s no reason why they can’t get this done through the normal budget process,” said Walker spokesman Tom Evenson. “If the Legislature wants to provide more money for transportation, then the governor is willing to work with them on that so long as we’re not raising taxes.”

Splitting off transportation from the rest of the budget could potentially make the plan more difficult to pass. When lawmakers split off roads from the rest of the budget in 1995, they didn’t pass a transportation budget until that November.

The move could also potentially make it easier for a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to add taxes or fees to a standalone roads budget, something Walker has said repeatedly he’s against.