When it comes to Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin voters are now evenly split.
Forty-eight percent of registered Wisconsin voters approve of Walker’s performance while 48% disapprove, according to Wednesday’s Marquette University Law School Poll.
It’s the first time since October 2014 that Walker’s approval hasn’t been under water with voters. And it marks Walker’s steady recovery since bottoming out with 36% approval in a September 2015 poll after his short-lived presidential campaign.
Walker has all but formally announced he is running for a third term next year.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the possibility of collecting a new fee on heavy trucks emerged Wednesday in his budget talks with Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he’s not sure if Republican senators support the concept, adding they need to learn more about it. That marks a shift from just a day earlier, when Fitzgerald dismissed the proposal, offered by GOP state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, as a “nonstarter.”
The concept is the latest to be entertained by state leaders as they attempt to craft the state’s next budget. July 1 is when the budget is supposed to be passed and take effect, a deadline Walker and lawmakers now appear certain to miss.
At least four other states collect heavy truck fees, and such a proposal could generate hundreds of millions in new revenue for roads. But it also would meet strong opposition from some of the state’s most powerful business groups, including Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. A lobbyist for the group, Scott Manley, slammed the proposal Wednesday as “punitive and unfair.”
Conservatives and liberals in Wisconsin both see hope in Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s steadfast refusal to back the current version of the GOP Senate health care bill.
Although they disagree with the reasons for his opposition, liberals see Johnson’s stand as a chance to sink the entire Republican effort to kill the existing health care law enacted under former President Barack Obama.
The senator’s fellow conservatives, including Gov. Scott Walker, are praising his attention-grabbing opposition to the bill and are urging him to seek changes to ensure Wisconsin wouldn’t be penalized for rejecting federal money to expand Medicaid.
It’s an unusual position for Johnson, who typically toes the party line. But his supporters are confident that when it comes time to vote on whether to replace the Affordable Care Act, Johnson’s longtime distaste for the law also known as Obamacare will prevail.
The latest transportation headache for Wisconsin officials comes in the form of a court ruling that says the state can’t use federal money to rebuild a $151 million stretch of highway between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan.
The decision, handed down last week by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, could mean additional strain on the state’s cash-strapped transportation fund.
State Department of Transportation officials have not said how they plan to respond.
They could appeal the ruling to the full appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee either would take the case. They could also try to advance the project using state money, but that would likely mean extended delays because of a funding shortage for highways.