- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A tangle of unresolved issues swirled around the Republican-controlled Legislature on Tuesday as lawmakers rushed to complete deals by the end of the week on some of the biggest pieces of Gov. Scott Walker’s two-year state spending plan - including cuts to the University of Wisconsin, roads funding and paying for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Complicating things, the conservative chairman of the Assembly Labor Committee broke with the wishes of Republican leaders and scheduled a Wednesday hearing and vote on a bill to repeal the prevailing wage.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have said they don’t have enough votes to repeal the law. Instead, they have been advocating for making changes to the law that sets a minimum wage for those building roads, schools and other public infrastructure. The debate could play out in the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee on its last planned meeting day Friday.

Vos expressed frustration that Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, planned the hearing and vote on repealing the prevailing wage while others were working on instead making changes to the law. Vos said he didn’t trust Jacque’s ability to count whether there is enough Republican support to repeal it.

“We are trying to negotiate to get the best possible prevailing wage deal put together,” Vos said.

Vos and others also have been working on a financing deal for a new $500 million arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Vos and others said after a meeting Tuesday in Walker’s conference room that they were optimistic a deal could be reached by the end of the week.

Lawmakers and Walker are farther apart on how to pay for roads. Walker proposed borrowing $1.3 billion, but Republicans in the Legislature have said they’re uncomfortable doing that. Instead, they have talked about raising vehicle registration fees, something Walker has repeatedly said he opposes.

Lawmakers are also considering delaying roads projects to save money, said Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. He predicted a deal on roads funding would be the last one to come into place this week.

Nygren said a deal is closer on UW funding. Walker called for a $300 million cut, coupled with removing UW from state oversight, in part to help it deal with the 13 percent loss in state aid. Legislative leaders already have rejected breaking UW completely free from state laws, and they’ve said they want to lower the cut as well but haven’t said yet by how much.

The budget committee planned to meet on Wednesday and again for what is slated to be a final time on Friday. With so much yet undone, the last meeting is expected to last into Saturday.

From there, the roughly $70 billion budget heads to the Senate and Assembly for votes in June. While the committee’s proposal likely will stay largely intact, there typically are changes to shore up votes needed to pass it. Republicans control the Senate 19-14 and the Assembly 63-36.

Walker, a likely presidential candidate, has said he won’t announce any run for the White House until after he signs the budget.


Associated Press writer Dana Ferguson contributed to this report.


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

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