GOP skeptical about Gov. Evers' plan to borrow $40M for lead pipe replacements

MADISON — Republican legislative leaders say they're skeptical about a plan in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' budget that calls for borrowing $40 million to replace lead water pipes around the state.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, told reporters during a question-and-answer session Tuesday that they're concerned most of the borrowing would go toward replacing pipes in Milwaukee.

Nygren said he supports more localized efforts rather than have taxpayers in his hometown of Marinette footing the bill for improvements in Milwaukee.

Vos said replacing lead lines across the state is too expensive and lawmakers should look for cheaper options, such as placing water-filtration systems in homes.

Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy issued this statement on Rep. Nygren's comments:

"In the big picture, Rep. Nygren’s quote points out – sadly – how divided our state has become and how disconnected many of our state legislators are from what their role should be. I think his comments are incredibly short-sighted and disappointing."

"State income and other taxes we all pay as citizens of Wisconsin are used to pay for all manner of public infrastructure and environmental projects across the state. If I was asked whether I would be OK with my state tax money being used to clean up poisoned groundwater in Marinette County (not far from Rep. Nygren’s home) caused by Tyco I would say that that would be worthwhile use of that money, and I suspect a large majority of my fellow Wisconsinites would agree."

"But when it comes to helping do much the same – in this case replacing lead water service lines in Milwaukee and other communities across Wisconsin – state Rep. Nygren and other GOP state legislators don’t think it is 'fair.'"

"Instead of fulfilling his oath to protect the health, safety and welfare of ALL residents of the state, Rep. Nygren is continuing to use the toxic 'divide and conquer' tactic of pitting people in certain parts of Wisconsin against residents in other parts of the state, pitting one community against another."

"It’s despicable to deal in fear and to appeal to people’s worst inclinations and emotions, but that’s what we are seeing."

"A house divided cannot stand – it’s time to start appealing to the better angels of our nature."