Governor Scott Walker wants the Department of Transportation to have its full budget request turned in to his office about two months earlier than usual.
During the fall before the biennial budget is released, the DOT usually turns in its full request in November. However, in a letter to Secretary Mark Gottlieb, the governor wants that moved up to September 15th, in order to allow time for a full public discussion.
In his letter, Walker called on the secretary to come up with a budget plan with specific priorities. “Identify efficiency savings within DOT, including the implementation of less costly design practices, and examine federal mandates that increase costs and other mechanisms that can save taxpayer dollars. Savings need to be given to local road aids and highway maintenance.”
The governor also asked that spending on mega projects in southeastern Wisconsin be minimized. “Any such projects should be prioritized based on our needs, not our wants,” he wrote.
Transportation spending was a major sticking point in the last state budget, with the issue tying up negotiations for almost a month and Republicans drastically reducing the amount of borrowing the governor used on to fund projects. GOP leaders have already been calling for a change in how the state funds projects, and some have indicated the state should consider alternatives in the next biennium. Walker has remained firm in his opposition to raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees, without a comparable tax cut in another area.
The governor will present his full budget to the Legislature early next year.