Republican leaders of the Wisconsin state legislature are at odds over Gov. Scott Walker's tax cut plan and the state's structural deficit.
The dispute between Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald boiled over after Vos effectively sidestepped Fitzgerald in the legislature. Bills like Walker's usually go to the Joint Committee on Finance, which consists of both state senators and representatives. When there's single-party control, legislative leaders usually wait until both chambers are on the same page.
But with some GOP state senators still iffy on Walker's plan, Vos called his own Assembly hearing. Fitzgerald was not pleased: “I think it's not necessary, I think it's not the way we operate around here, and I know I have some members that are pretty upset that they've decided to make this move,” he said.
At issue for some of Fitzgerald's members is the way Walker's tax cut would grow the state's structural deficit.
“I think those that ran on the idea in 2010 that we were going to work to reduce and ultimately eliminate the structural deficit that was created under Governor Doyle,” Fitzgerald said, “there's some concerns about simply kind of turning our back on that concept and simply saying, 'OK, now it's alright.'”
Vos issued a statement saying his members would not wait for the Senate when tax cuts are a top priority for Assembly Republicans.
But Fitzgerald's concerns may end up winning the day here. After talking with Fitzgerald, Gov. Walker told reporters for the first time that he was open to changes.
“If there are tweaks that fundamentally continue to get money in the hands of hardworking taxpayers,” Walker said, “we'll certainly look at different ways of doing that.”
Neither Walker nor Fitzgerald would talk numbers, but Fitzgerald says “some reduction” of the structural deficit would likely be fine for his members.