With regards to paying for the roads, Senate Republicans of Wisconsin state have changed their stance. The budget writing committee of the state's Legislature in November 2015, filled entirely with Senators of the GOP, made a resolution against any new borrowing. The result of voting went against a proposed $350 million borrowed money for roads. The official statement was that the transportation debt levels of the state cannot be sustained.
Cut forward to 2017, the new Senate Republican budget plan released on July 18 shows that the state is now borrowing $712 million, twice the proposed amount in 2015, to fund an assortment of road projects and a number of bridge projects as well. Luther Olsen, a Republican from Ripon, and the Senate vice chairman of the committee acknowledged this policy shift. He admitted this when questioned in a media interview.
The dispute concerning the transportation spending gives rise to a Catch 22 situation on preparing the 2017 to 2019 state budget. This budget was due on July 1. Governor Scott Walker met the legislative leaders on July 19 for further discussions. This happened after the Senate revealed a complete spending plan on July 18 to push the negotiations.
This has left a number of Republicans confused. Jim Steineke, a GOP from Kaukauna, and the Assembly Majority Leader have expressed as much. He said that the Senate has done a complete 180-degree turnaround on the subject of transportation borrowing.
Sustainable solutions needed
The $712 million sum proposed by the Senate is much more than the $500 million call for road construction and repair borrowing asked by Governor Walker. GOP members in the Assembly said that the state must not borrow money for roads if no new revenue sources are found paying for them. Attention is now being given to November 2015 vote. The latter will concentrate on the borrowing package of $350 million. It was passed with the support of Assembly Republicans and Democrats. There were concerns about the amount being borrowed but the consensus was that a much better solution will be required in the coming years.
It is no wonder that Republican Senator Alberta Darling from River Hills said that it is time for formulating a sustainable solution to the transportation funding problem. Darling is co-chairwoman of the budget writing committee. Another GOP committee member, Senator Howard Marklein, urged his colleagues to formulate a solution which does not involve borrowing money. Marklein was elected from Spring Green.