The state Department of Transportation’s budget plan released by Governor Scott Walker on Thursday is receiving a cool reception from top Republicans in the state Assembly.
In a joint release, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Majority Leader Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), JFC Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Assistant Majority Leader Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) said the request “falls short of addressing the long-term funding crisis in our transportation budget. It is a political solution, not a real solution.”
Walker has been at odds with members of his party in the past over transportation funding. During the last state budget, passage was delayed by a dispute over the level of borrowing the governor relied on to fund road projects. The budget request released this week lowers the amount bonding the governor plans to seek, but also tries close a shortfall in the state transportation fund by delaying major projects around the state…something legislative Republicans have also argued against.
“It is more conservative to pay for projects today than it is to borrow the money and make our children pay the price. But for far too long under Democratic and Republican leadership, the state has relied too heavily on bonding,” GOP leaders said. “According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin will spend roughly 20 cents on every transportation dollar on debt service for this fiscal year. It is projected to increase under this proposal.”
Assembly Republicans outlined their agenda earlier this month, which calls for exploring all options when it comes to funding the state’s infrastructure needs. In addition to seeking out cost savings, lawmakers are also open to looking for additional revenue sources. Walker on Thursday said he would veto any gas tax or fee increases in the budget that increase the burden on taxpayers.