A budget request from the state Department of Transportation calls for directing more money to local roads and bridges, while also delaying portions of several of the state’s major constructions projects.
The plan includes a $65 million increase in local aid, a nearly $70 million increase in traffic safety and maintenance funding, and $19 million more for local road and bridge improvements. The plan also lowers the level of bonding the governor is seeking to about $500 million and does not include any gas tax or vehicle registration fee increases.
Walker unveiled the proposal during a press conference in Edgerton Thursday morning, with ongoing work to expand Interstate 39/90 serving as a backdrop. “We want a budget focused on safety and maintenance of the existing system,” the governor said.
The proposal maintains funding for several projects that Walker said the DOT feels are a priority. However, it also calls for delays for portions of the state’s mega projects, such as the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee. “We looked at a number of projects that were of utmost importance…and said those are important to do now. There are other projects that are important to the future, but don’t necessarily need to be done,” Walker said.
Critics of delaying road projects have argued that the move will just make them more expensive in the future, as labor and material costs increase.
Walker also restated that he will not support a transportation budget that increases taxes, and vowed to veto any plan the Legislature passes that raises the overall burden on taxpayers.
The governor will deliver his budget to the Legislature early next year.