The new state budget that's two months late has taken a big step forward, after the Legislature's finance panel okayed a G-O-P road funding package.
The panel voted 12-4 late Tuesday night, with all Democrats voting no, to borrow 402-million dollars for two years of highway projects -- less than what was borrowed in previous budgets. The package also includes a new 75-dollar annual fee for hybrid and electric vehicles, 25 less than first proposed -- and it would keep delaying major projects including the large expansions of Interstate 94 across Milwaukee and the north leg of the Zoo freeway interchange. It also continues a study of possible tollways, a cut of 200 jobs in the state D-O-T, and ending local authority to regulate quarries. The package ends a long dispute on road funding among majority Republicans, and the finance panel expects to set the rest of the budget today (Wednesday) before it goes to both houses.