MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that he has no interest in raising vehicle registration fees as part of a plan to pay for Wisconsin roads, but he has been talking with Republican legislative leaders about tapping general tax revenues to plug the shortfall.
Walker and Republican lawmakers have been at odds over how to solve a projected $1 billion transportation budget hole. Walker has proposed delaying projects and borrowing about half a billion dollars, while Assembly Republicans have said all options -- including gas and vehicle fee increases -- should be in play.
Walker has threatened to veto a proposed gas tax increase. And while he stopped short of a veto threat Monday for vehicle fee hikes, he made clear that's not the funding road he wanted to go down.
"I'm not proposing nor do I think we're going to have a gas tax or vehicle registration fee as a part of this budget," he told reporters. Walker said he had "no interest" in higher vehicle registration fees and he knew of no one in the Legislature who was talking about it.
Instead, Walker appears to be coming around to the idea of tapping the state's general fund comprised of sales, income and numerous other tax and fee collections to help pay for roads. He didn't say how much he's open to diverting to the transportation fund, which is made up of gas tax and vehicle registration fees.
"I've said repeatedly in my meetings with the (Assembly) speaker and the Senate majority leader that I think we can free up some more money, looking at general purpose revenue in the state budget and some other areas that we think we can save on," Walker said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has been the most bullish about using general fund money to pay for roads, while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has proposed increasing $300 million in transportation-related taxes and fees to bolster that fund, with corresponding cuts elsewhere.
Critics of diverting general tax revenue to the transportation fund say that's not a sustainable way to pay for roads.
Walker said he was "very confident we'll reach a positive conclusion" with fellow Republicans who control the Legislature.
A resolution could still be months away. The Legislature's budget-writing committee held six public hearings this month and plans to start voting on making changes to Walker's budget next week, but the most difficult -- and consequential -- decisions likely won't be made until later in June.
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