Special to RightWisconsin

It is time to finish the budget. The Assembly has shown it’s ready with its continued proposed solutions. Governor Walker has shown he’s ready with his recent proposal that meets the shared priorities of all branches. It is time for the Senate to come to the table and meet us somewhere in the middle.

The proposal from Governor Walker is one that I can support. Not because it gives in to every item the Assembly is advocating for, but because it provides for give and take from the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate. Under Governor Walker’s plan, we all have to compromise to get to an agreement while still satisfying the most closely held priorities of Wisconsinites: funding for K-12 education, investing in our infrastructure and roads, and relieving the tax burden on Wisconsin families. It’s hard to understand why the Senate hasn’t given Governor Walker’s proposal the green light.

The Senate’s most recent platform is that borrowing one-time money is more conservative than creating a new revenue stream for the Department of Transportation, given the audit that shed light on inefficiencies and wasteful practices within the department. If we’re to assume the position of fighting for true conservative values, then shouldn’t the Senate concede that the truly conservative option would be to pay cash for our roads without borrowing at all? This is the most responsible position, and two years ago, Senate Republicans would have agreed. In 2015, Republican senators declined to “kick the can down the road,” stating instead they were “going to take the tough vote.” In that same year, the Assembly agreed to do one more round of borrowing, under the stipulation that in the next budget cycle, we would find a sustainable solution for our roads. That time has come, and yet the Senate has now reneged on their stance to find a long-term fix.

I have been a staunch supporter of paying for our roads as we go, as have my colleagues in the Assembly. While I believe new revenue and no new bonding without a sustainable way to pay that debt is the best way to address our transportation deficit, I understand that compromise is at the root of finding solutions. Governor Walker has offered a plan that keeps projects on track, while leaving the door open for bonding if the federal government comes through with an infrastructure plan. This is a responsible compromise that addresses the issues from the Senate and the Assembly alike.

The Assembly and the Governor are the only two parties to come to the table willing to negotiate and give something up. After all, that’s how negotiations work. Under Governor Walker’s deal, we will get reforms for DOT, cash for current projects, lower our debt, and time for the DOT to make changes ahead of the next budget’s decision making. The Assembly has accepted that we won’t get everything on our wish list; it’s time for the Senate to come to that same conclusion. If this doesn’t get us back to the table, then I don’t know what will.

Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, represents Wisconsin’s 5th Assembly District and is the state Assembly Majority Leader.
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