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Joint Finance Committee prepares to take up budget as Foxconn moves forward

 

After a nearly two month hiatus the state's budget writing committee is meeting next week to discuss Foxconn and vote on parts of the already late state budget.

The budget stalemate started after the Assembly and the Senate disagreed on how to pay for roads.

59 yeses were enough to move forward with a $3 billion incentives package to bring Foxconn to the state. 

The bill passed by the Assembly Thursday is now in the hands of the Joint Finance Committee, which is already planning a public hearing on the bill next week.

"I think the good news is with Foxconn and the excitement and the engagement has actually reinvigorated conversations with the Senate on the budget," said State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

Transportation has been a sticking point in the budget with the Senate proposing to borrow a little more than $700 million and the Assembly wanting to borrow less.

"I think we've both moved, they're not as high as they were and we're not as low as we were," said Nygren.

The Foxconn deal calls for borrowing more than $250 million to re-build I-94 in the southeastern part of the state. 

"Foxconn has helped reprioritizes us and we are to the point there has been concessions on both sides and what we're going to end up with here is a responsible level of bonding to keep the projects that we have started in our state on track," said State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton. 

Roth says while the Foxconn deal important for the state, the budget needs should've been done. 

"We want to pass Foxconn too, but we want to make sure we don't lose sight of the budget the one bill we have to pass," explained Roth.

"The next budget already is more than a billion-dollar deficit and now we're saying we're going to increase that deficit by giving money to a foreign company, I think that's pretty risky," said Democratic State Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.

Hintz who is on the Joint Finance Committee says there are priorities lawmakers need to put ahead of Foxconn.

"Let's invest in our public schools, lets invest in our universities, lets fix our crumbling infrastructure because those are the kind of things that bring sustainable economic development not these giveaways," Hintz said.

The Joint Finance Committee will in be next Thursday to vote on parts of the budget, however transportation is not on the agenda.

Lawmakers say they plan on sticking with Governor Walker's proposed $640 million investment in K-12 funding.