By Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

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

3:15 p.m.

State budget talks have hit an impasse in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly are at odds over how much to spend on K-12 schools, how to pay for roads and whether to cut property taxes as much as Gov. Scott Walker wants.

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee has no meetings scheduled and Senate Republican leaders are openly talking about passing their own separate two-year spending plan.

Budget committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren says he is hopeful the panel can meet on Thursday. He says Assembly Republicans plan to release an alternative K-12 funding plan on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says if the committee doesn’t meet Thursday, “we’re in a rougher spot than I thought we were.”


2:30 p.m.

The leaders of the Legislature’s finance committee are reiterating their opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to shift the state to a self-insurance model but promised to find the $60 million that Walker says the move would yield elsewhere.

Walker’s state budget calls for moving to a self-insurance system where the state pays for health insurance for its workers directly rather than buy it through HMOs. Walker believes the move will save $60 million in tax revenue, which he has earmarked to spend on K-12 public schools.

Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling have rejected the idea, saying during a Madison luncheon on Monday that they’re not convinced the move will save that much and could disrupt the state’s insurance markets.

But they vowed to still find the $60 million in savings. They said that could mean raising premiums or deductibles as well as creating financial disincentives for unhealthy practices or tapping the state Group Insurance Board’s reserves.


2:15 p.m.

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he hopes the process of passing the state budget can get back on track, but if it doesn’t the Senate will move ahead with passing its own spending plan.

Fitzgerald told reporters Monday that he hopes the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee can resume its work taking votes on the two-year spending plan Thursday. The panel had hoped to meet on Tuesday but canceled it.

Fitzgerald says if the committee doesn’t meet Thursday, “we’re in a rougher spot than I thought we were.”

Republicans are held up on numerous issues, including how to pay for roads, how much money to give K-12 schools and whether to cut income taxes or possibly reduce or eliminate the personal property tax primarily paid by businesses.


1:35 p.m.

A key Wisconsin legislator says lawmakers are talking about the Assembly and Senate drafting their own state budgets as Republicans continue to fight among themselves over key issues.

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Sen. Alberta Darling told reporters following a Madison luncheon that talk is swirling about each house developing their own budget rather than revising Gov. Scott Walker’s spending plan together through the committee, as is the normal practice.

The committee’s other co-chair, Rep. John Nygren, told reporters at the same luncheon that he hadn’t heard that.

The Senate and Assembly are at loggerheads over how to pay for road building while facing a nearly $1 billion deficit in the state’s transportation fund. Assembly Republicans also want to spend less on public schools than Walker proposed and want to allow property taxes to rise. Walker cast doubt Monday on whether he would support that plan.


12:10 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker is refusing to say whether he will allow the Department of Corrections outdoors magazine to continue.

The Legislature’s budget committee last week voted to save the magazine that Walker had slated for elimination. Walker could undo that decision with a veto.

Walker said Monday that he will weigh that possible veto with the rest of the budget. He says he’s most concerned with the Legislature adhering to his top priorities of cutting property taxes, paying for roads without a tax increase, increasing funding for K-12 schools and reshaping Medicaid.

If they do that, Walker says, “I’m willing to give and take on other issues.”

Walker spoke at the latest of a series of news conferences urging action on road funding to protect ongoing projects.

9:16 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker is keeping up the pressure on fellow Republicans to find a road-funding solution.

Walker scheduled a news conference Monday alongside the ongoing work on the Highway 151/Verona Road reconstruction on the southwest side of Madison. Walker’s budget would keep that project on schedule and he’s warned that it and others could be delayed if lawmakers don’t reach a deal close to July 1.

Republicans who control the Legislature have been unable to reach agreement with each other and Walker on how to pay for roads going forward.

Co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee were taking questions Monday at a public forum focused on health issues at the same time as Walker’s news conference.

The current budget runs through the end of June.

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