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Why is there gridlock at the Wisconsin Legislature?

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The dust has settled at the Minnesota Capitol after lawmakers met in a dramatic special session earlier this month and passed a state budget.

But not so in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's new fiscal year begins Wednesday, but lawmakers are gridlocked over a new budget. At this point, there's not enough time for the Legislature to reach a deal and finish their work by tomorrow. 

Tom Weber spoke with WPR's Shawn Johnson about what that means, what the sticking points are - and why Wisconsin's government won't shut down.

The Associated Press has this look at the main issues preventing the Republican-controlled Legislature from passing a budget on time:


Lawmakers did not want to issue $1.3 billion in bonds to pay for ongoing road construction and repairs. Instead, they're talking about borrowing far less, leading to cuts of between $500 million and $800 million. The fight has been over whether to exempt large urban projects, like the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee, or spread the cuts out evenly across the state. Senate Republicans are leading the charge to protect the Zoo Interchange, while Assembly Republicans argue rural projects must not bear the brunt of any cuts.

Prevailing wage

Conservatives have been pushing for an outright repeal of the law that sets minimum wages for construction workers on some public projects, including schools and road work. Assembly Republicans released a plan Monday that would eliminate the prevailing wage on projects costing less than $450,000. But Senate Republicans were looking at going further with a proposal that would strike the law for all local projects.

Milwaukee Bucks

Walker, Republicans, Milwaukee Democratic leaders and Bucks officials in early June got behind a $500 million plan to pay for a new arena. Since then several Republican senators have balked at including the proposal, which relies on $250 million in state and local taxpayer money, from being included in the budget. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday released a draft of the bill for the first time, and said he had the votes to pass it.