MADISON (WKOW) -- He made balancing the state budget the top priority. But two years after erasing a $3 billion-plus deficit, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) is being questioned by fellow Republicans for proposing more than $1 billion in borrowing for his next two-year budget.
"To make sure that we balance the budget and not kick the can into the future," Gov. Walker said in November of 2010.
That was his mantra after taking office as well. But Republican lawmakers are concerned the can is now being kicked.
"Well, I think the level of bonding is an issue," said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, when asked what his concerns are over the Governor's budget proposal.
Bonding is how government's borrow money to pay for projects over the course of a number of years. The Governor is proposing more than $1 billion dollars in borrowing, most of which is for transportation projects in the Milwaukee area.
"If you look at the individual projects, we've got the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee, you've got the Zoo Interchange, things that are, you know, desperately needed," admitted Rep. Nygren.
But, many GOP lawmakers question the rest of the borrowing. Gov. Walker proposes spending close to $100 million on non-state agency building construction and improvements, which includes a new domestic violence shelter here in Madison. About $34 million of that will be borrowed.
"I appreciate people look at how frugal we were two years ago. But in our capital budget, overall spending and the level of bonding are both lower than in (Governor) Jim Doyle's last budget," said Gov. Walker, referring to his Democratic predecessor.
But Republicans want to make sure it goes even lower.
"Just make sure we're living within the means of the people of the State of Wisconsin. We don't want to put them in a hole," said Rep. Nygren.
"We welcome those in the legislature who want to look at that more closely and maybe in the capital budget there's a project here or there that could be modified," said Gov. Walker.
Even though cuts to the amount of borrowing are likely, Rep. Nygren was very careful not to mention specific items in the budget he or others may look to remove. But its apparent something will have to go.
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