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Republicans show few signs of progress on Wisconsin budget

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders showed no signs of progress on reaching a state budget deal following a closed-door meeting Wednesday with Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker and fellow Republicans have been unable to come together on a new $76 billion, two-year spending plan, primarily because they can’t agree on the best way to plug a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the transportation budget.

The disagreement has left Wisconsin as one of just three states with a July 1 deadline that has not passed a budget. Current spending levels will continue during the stalemate.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos left the hour-long meeting saying he’s “accepted the reality of the world” that Walker and Senate Republicans won’t go for any gas tax or vehicle fee increases. Assembly Republicans have long called for revenue increases to be part of any plan to pay for roads.

Vos said without a way to pay for additional borrowing for roads, the only option left is to hold the transportation budget flat. He said that’s not his preferred option, given that it would slow down or stop work on major interstate projects in southeast Wisconsin. But Vos stressed that the Assembly won’t accept additional borrowing without a way to pay for it.

“I have accepted the reality that they don’t want to raise revenue,” Vos said of the Senate and Walker. “They need to accept the reality that we’re not going to borrow and spend. We could be together fairly quickly if everybody can accept everybody else’s reality.”

Senate Republicans are showing no signs of agreeing with Vos.

The Senate won’t accept a transportation budget with no increases because of the negative effect it would have on ongoing interstate projects, said Myranda Tanck, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

A spokesman for Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the meeting went.

Vos said he hoped to meet with Fitzgerald and Walker again next week.

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