Republican infighting getting more public, continues to delay state budget process

By Greg Neumann, WKOW News 

MADISON (WKOW) -- In total control of state government for more than six years, Republican leaders are now fighting among themselves - and that fight has become very public.

On Monday, Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) tweeted he would veto the entire 2017-19 state budget if it includes an increase in property taxes for homeowners.

Tuesday morning, Gov. Walker appeared at a joint press conference with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) to announce the creation of the Tommy G. Thompson Center for Public Leadership.

There was one catch for the media - no questions.

That's what an aide to Speaker Vos told reporters before the news conference started, highlighting the tension that exists between Republicans leaders.

Rather than address their issues in public, they went out of their way not to talk about it.

Still, hours later, Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) insisted the entire matter is being blown out of proportion.

"Governor Walker is not one who threatens people, it's just not his nature," Sen. Darling insisted. "If he has a different idea, it's his ability to put his idea out and we can discuss that. But I don't think he threatens people, that's just not his nature."

Meanwhile, Democrats - who have no control over anything - seem amused by the GOP infighting.

"I really think it speaks to the Governor's immaturity to issue a veto threat on Twitter instead of meeting with people," said Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point).

"You know, it looks like Governor Walker's following the lead of President Trump which hasn't exactly been a model for how an executive should behave," added Rep. Gordon Hintz.

The battle between Gov. Walker and Speaker Vos specifically started with differing views over how to fund transportation for the next two years. Vos wants to add revenue to close a nearly $1 billion budget deficit, while Walker is against raising any taxes and fees.

But now, Assembly and Senate Republicans are even at an impasse over certain issues.

On Tuesday afternoon, the GOP co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee were forced to cancel a scheduled vote on the UW System budget because Senate and Assembly Republicans haven't come to an agreement on whether to pass Governor Walker's proposal to cut tuition for in-state residents by five percent.

"I'm just a little frustrated with the process being delayed because we can't come to a decision between the two bodies," remarked Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

Before ending their Tuesday session, JFC leaders announced they will make another attempt to vote on the UW System on Thursday.