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Budget committee in the ‘Zone’

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that obviously doesn’t apply to members of the Joint Finance Committee.

A short summer vacation did very little in repairing some tarnished relationships on the state’s budget committee.

The 16-member panel regrouped Tuesday – well 14 of them anyway – to handle a variety of topics from Milwaukee rail station upgrades to replacing highway light masts, and it didn’t take long for a few political foes to restart the verbal jousting that had become so (in?)famous during this year’s budget debate.

While there were a handful of Democrats who sparred with Republicans, the line of the day came from state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington.

During discussion related to a request by the state Department of Transportation to transfer $33 million into its highway winter maintenance budget due to a shortfall, state Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, said the move was unfair to counties, which were told to live within their means this next budget cycle.

“I’d like to hear a good explanation as to why the state just didn’t live within its means,” Jauch said. “The local governments don’t have a reserve, they can’t transfer money to maintain their local roads, they simply have to do with less.”

The comment – and others – provoked Vos to admit that the only thing missing in his head when he walks into the Capitol is the theme from “The Twilight Zone.”

To wit, Jauch replied: “The Twilight Zone? It’s a nightmare,” Jauch said. “This legislature created a nightmare.”

Just another “Tale from the Crypt.”

— Adam Wise

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