April 24, 2014

Budget committee mulls transportation cuts

Lawmakers are making some progress in efforts to close a hole in the state’s transportation fund, although the heavy lifting is expected to come later on in the state budget process.

The fund is expected to face a $63.5 million deficit in the next budget biennium. The Department of Transportation has proposed a series of changes to fill that gap, although Joint Finance Committee co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says lawmakers are still considering their options. Darling says the committee will likely take up a large package on DOT at “some point, but it will be like next week.”

The committee on Tuesday did make some changes to the governor’s proposed transportation budget that were in line with reductions requested by the DOT. Those included cutting funding for a grant program aimed at reducing highway congestion and trimming contract costs for passenger rail between Milwaukee and Chicago by $1.1 million.

Lawmakers also voted to remove a budget provision that would have added about 30 additional State Patrol vehicle inspectors and safety investigators.