June 9, 2023
By Lane Kimble
Finding out what funding will look like for road repairs, rehab, and reconstruction over the next two years will have to wait another week.
With the Joint Finance Committee delaying debate Thursday afternoon on the Transportation budget, state Republicans instead announced a “transformational” bipartisan agreement on shared revenue.
The deal will commit one cent for every five cents generated in state sales tax to counties and municipalities across the state. Every municipality with 110,000 people or fewer will see at least a 20% increase in shared revenue. Communities must spend the money on roads and transportation, public safety, and other crucial services.
The bill would also allow the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to levy increased sales taxes to fix their budget crises as long as the City Council and County Board approve the matter by two-thirds votes.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) had threatened to remove Milwaukee from the equation altogether and move ahead with other elements as recently as Wednesday afternoon.
“Our job is to find consensus even when we don’t necessarily agree with the people in the room,” Vos said during a press conference announcing the deal. “Today is one of those opportunities where each side brought their best ideas to the table.”
Last-minute negotiations also vastly boosted money for public schools, the school choice program, and eliminated the personal property tax. Those additions ultimately helped convince Vos and other Republicans to support the bill.
Gov. Tony Evers, for his part, said he worked with Vos and Republican Senate Leader Devin LeMahieu “through much of (Wednesday) night” to solidify a deal.
“For too long, our communities have been asked to do more with less, and this agreement is critical to ensure our local partners have the resources they need to meet basic and unique needs alike,” Evers wrote in a press release.
The JFC postponed its scheduled hearing on Transportation due to shared revenue’s potential impacts on funding, but it likely will be back on the docket as soon as next week. WTBA will provide updates when the committee ultimately takes up transportation.