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State budget concerns linger

After a full day of meetings with Legislators Tuesday, Superior's mayor remains concerned about a budget proposal crafted and adopted by the Republican-controlled Assembly last week.

After a full day of meetings with Legislators Tuesday, Superior's mayor remains concerned about a budget proposal crafted and adopted by the Republican-controlled Assembly last week.

Mayor Dave Ross, Council Vice President Kevin Norbie and Development and Government Relations Director Jeff Vito met in Madison earlier this week with members of the Legislature's conference committee appointed to hash out differences between the Assembly budget and one adopted by the bipartisan Joint Finance Committee.

Ross said the delegation was able to meet with seven of the eight committee members.

Sen. Majority Leader Judith Robson, D-Beloit was unavailable Tuesday, but the delegation met with her staff, Norbie said. He said the chance to meet with conferees was good, but the two parties remain far apart.

In every meeting, Ross said the subject of the tax on "big oil" came up. The tax proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle has been of concern to local officials as Murphy Oil Corp. considers a $6 billion expansion of its Superior refinery. Facing a new tax, they fear Murphy won't invest in Wisconsin.

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But it's the threatened elimination of more than $1 million in shared revenue that remains a top concern after Tuesday's lobbying effort. If it comes down to choosing sides, Ross said he will stand with the Gov. Jim Doyle and supported by the Democratic Party because it is the least harmful to the city at this point.

"The loss of $1 million would be more harmful to the city than the potential impact the oil tax may have on Murphy Oil's expansion," Ross said. He added the new tax and the competitive disadvantage it could create remain a concern.

Ross stressed he's unhappy with a 9 percent increase in state spending.

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