- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Wisconsin state budget (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

The Wisconsin state chamber of commerce is coming out strongly against raising taxes on heavy trucks to help pay for roads.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce lobbyist Scott Manley said Wednesday that the tax increase is “anti-business and anti-consumer.”

Lawmakers have been discussing a new tax on large trucks that would raise about $135 million a year. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says senators have many questions about the tax and likely won’t support it.

Manley says WMC is “strongly opposed” to the idea and instead continues to support raising the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.


4:10 p.m.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin state Senate are going to review every decision made so far on the state budget before deciding what to do next.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday he is organizing a meeting with the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau for next week to review all decisions made so far by the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

Fitzgerald says that does not mean the Senate is moving to pass its own budget instead of working to reach agreement with Assembly Republicans.

Fitzgerald says progress is being made on reaching a deal, saying “there’s a lot of agreement on just about everything” except for how to pay for roads. But he says “it feels like things are moving a little bit right now.”


3 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders appeared to be coming together on a breakthrough deal that could include ways to raise revenue to pay for road construction without increasing gas taxes or vehicle registration fees.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday that “other things” were being considered to pay for roads besides raising the gas tax and higher vehicle registration fees. Assembly Republicans have insisted on raising revenue, rather than just borrowing, to plug a $1 billion road-funding gap.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would only say “stay tuned” when asked what those other things might be.

Walker has said he would veto a gas tax increase and has spoken against higher vehicle registration fees.


1:25 p.m.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says a good night’s sleep has helped change the tenor of Republicans’ budget negotiations.

Assembly and Senate Republicans are clashing over how to pay for roads. The Assembly is opposed to a Senate plan to borrow $850 million for roadwork.

Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald spent Tuesday complaining to reporters that negotiations had stalled and branded each other’s positions on transportation “laughable.”

Vos, Fitzgerald and Gov. Scott Walker met Wednesday morning. Fitzgerald emerged saying things were back on track but didn’t elaborate. Vos also wouldn’t divulge any details from the meeting but said the tone of negotiations has improved. He said a good night’s sleep has helped things.


12:01 p.m.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says budget talks are “back on track” following a meeting with Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Fitzgerald spoke to reporters Wednesday after emerging from the closed-door meeting that lasted about 45 minutes.

A major point of disagreement is whether transportation-related taxes and fees will be raised to pay for roads. Walker has promised to veto any gas tax increase.

Fitzgerald says “we’re still talking about other things other than a gas tax and vehicle registration fees.”

He did not say what specifically was discussed.

He says Senate Republicans planned to discuss later Wednesday the option of passing their own budget, an unprecedented move that would demonstrate how deep the divide is with Assembly Republicans.


10:45 a.m.

Wisconsin Democratic leaders are mocking the rift between legislative Republicans who can’t reach a deal on the state budget.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca told reporters in the Capitol press room Wednesday they enjoy one another’s company and get along great. They laughed and slapped each other on the back as they spoke.

Their comments came a day after Republican leaders made separate appearances in the press room to complain about one another.

Barca and Shilling had both come from a meeting with Gov. Scott Walker. Barca, laughing, says Walker told them he thinks the budget can get done in July. Barca says it appears based on the Republican discord an agreement could be weeks, if not months away.


8:09 a.m.

Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker are once again set to meet as a deal to pass the state’s $76 billion budget remains elusive.

Walker was to meet privately Wednesday with Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Assembly and Senate Republicans were also planning to meet separately behind closed doors in the afternoon to discuss the budget.

Vos and Fitzgerald both voiced frustration with the lack of progress in talks on Tuesday. The biggest area of disagreement is whether to borrow $850 million to pay for roads or to borrow less and raise taxes or fees to make up the difference.

Walker has promised to veto a tax increase and Senate Republicans are siding with him. But Vos says that approach is irresponsible.

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