State Assembly Republicans close on new roads plan

State Assembly Republicans close on new roads plan

The Republican co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee says the Assembly is close to presenting a detailed alternative to Gov. Scott Walker’s road-funding plan.

Rep. John Nygren said Monday that Walker has been briefed on the plan but hasn’t committed to anything. Nygren also declined to comment on the plan’s details. Assembly Republicans have said they would propose $300 million in tax and fee increases, with corresponding cuts, to pay for roads.

Walker has promised to veto any gas tax increase and also is against higher vehicle registration fees. Walker instead is talking about using more money from the state’s main account to pay for roads.

The issue is one of the most divisive facing the Legislature this year as it works on the $76 billion budget.

Nygren says the Assembly’s alternative will be out within days.

Panel approves cuts to labor commission

The Joint Finance Committee voted to go along with Walker’s proposal to cut $390,000 and four positions at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

The Republican-controlled committee voted along party lines to reduce the number of commissioners from three to one and cut staff from seven to five.

The commission’s workload has dropped dramatically since 2011, when the Act 10 law that greatly reduced union protections and power for public workers went into effect.

Vote on judicial salary increases delayed

The JFC was also scheduled to vote on whether to go along with Walker’s call to raise judicial salaries 2 percent, which is in line with increases for other state workers.

Budget committee co-chair Nygren says lawmakers need more time to study the issue. But he says the pay raises will likely be closer to 2 percent than to 16 percent that Chief Justice Pat Roggensack has requested.

The committee did reject Walker’s proposal to put the independent Judicial Commission that oversees ethics of Wisconsin judges under control of the state Supreme Court. The committee also rejected Walker’s call to do away with a council that issues advice on judicial issues.