Deal reached on new state budget; Bucks arena funding, prevailing wage to be in separate bills

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MADISON -- Republican legislative leaders have reached a deal on a new state budget that removes the Milwaukee Bucks arena funding proposal and prevailing wage reforms -- to be taken up later as separate bills.

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren told The Associated Press on Tuesday, June 30th that the deal also includes agreement on how to distribute cuts in road funding. He says the cut will be less than the $800 million that had been discussed.

Nygren says the deal on roads cuts is "pretty consistent" with what Assembly Republicans had wanted. They did not want to protect the Zoo Interchange construction project near Milwaukee from cuts out of fear that would mean rural projects would bear bigger hits.

Nygren says the budget-writing committee will meet Thursday to approve the deal.

Leaders of the Senate and Assembly plan to hold a news conference on Wednesday at 9 a.m. to announce terms of the agreement. The deal was reached on the last day of the fiscal year.

The Legislature could vote on the new budget as early as next week, but no dates have been announced.

The budget agreement comes one day after Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released the draft of the Bucks arena funding proposal along with an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau -- nearly a month after the outline of the deal was first announced by Governor Scott Walker and others.

Vos said he has enough votes to pass a financing plan for a $500 million Milwaukee Bucks arena that relies on $250 million from state and local taxpayers. It's unclear whether there are enough votes in the Senate.

"All of the sudden, the arena issue looks like ‘gee – no matter how I vote on this I’ll have maybe half the people mad at me.' If, for example, I am a conservative Republican, does this package represent what it means to be a conservative Republican?  Or if I’m a Democrat from Milwaukee or not from Milwaukee, does this represent what left of center politics should be?  The arena issue cuts diagonally. Is it right for taxpayers, no matter how directly or indirectly it would be financed to place the money on the table? You’ve got so many moving parts.  So many people who are on the fence who are saying to the Assembly Speaker or Senate Majority Leader, ‘gee, if it has this in it I might not be able to vote for it.  If it doesn’t have this I might not be able to vote for it,'" UW-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee said.

Again -- we expect to learn more about the budget agreement Wednesday morning, as lawmakers hold a news conference at the Capitol.