- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

DELAVAN, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker, for the second time in less than a week, said Monday that he won’t agree to raise the gas tax or vehicle registration fees to break a legislative impasse over how to pay for highway projects and other transportation needs.

“I’m going to keep my campaign promises,” said Walker, who didn’t specifically promise not to raise the gas tax or vehicle registration fees, but did say he wouldn’t let the overall tax burden go up in his second term.

Walker, who is expected to announce a presidential run soon, commented on transportation funding after a speech at a Boys and Girls Club meeting in Delavan. Walker was re-elected to a second term in November, and the night of his victory promised swift action on the budget given a larger Republican majority in the Legislature.

But the process is taking just as long this year as it did in 2013. That year the budget committee finished its work on June 5 and Walker signed it on June 30.

Figuring out how to pay for road projects is one of the last pieces of the state budget puzzle to fall into place this year. The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee had hoped to finish its work on Friday, but couldn’t get it done. It has yet to set its next meeting date, which was expected to be its last.

Once the budget clears the committee, it heads to the Senate and Assembly - both controlled by Republicans - for votes later this month. Walker has said he won’t announce a presidential run until after he signs the budget into law.

Republicans lawmakers are balking at Walker’s proposal to borrow $1.3 billion for roads, but they haven’t been able to come up with an alternative the governor will back.

“We need to come to an agreement with the governor,” Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the budget committee said Friday. “He’s pretty much taken all of our options off the table and we don’t see the bonding out there as a great option.”

Walker didn’t budge Monday.

“I made it clear that while I support a vibrant transportation system, I don’t support raising revenues be it a gas tax or a vehicle registration fee without an offsetting reduction in taxes somewhere else in the budget,” Walker said. “And so far that hasn’t been in any of the proposals.”

Another sticking point in the budget is a financing deal for a new $500 million arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing unidentified sources, reported last week that the deal would include $250 million from taxpayers and $250 million from current and past owners of the Bucks.

Walker described the talks as “fluid.”

“There’s been some talk about bits and pieces of some of what’s out there,” Walker said. “Many of those are areas we’ve talked about but none of which have reached an absolute conclusion.”

Walker said he hopes to have a deal on the arena by the end of the week.

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

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