While he will not introduce his next state budget proposal until early next year, Governor Scott Walker is already making it clear he will hold firm on a position not to consider raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees to help fund transportation projects.
During a stop in Madison Thursday, Walker said he does not support a gas tax or revenue increase, unless there is a corresponding decrease in other taxes. “I’m not going to add to the overall tax burden.”
The last state budget covered shortfalls in transportation funding with borrowing – a move several Republicans opposed last spring and one many are expected to fight against if it shows up in the budget Walker introduces next year.
No borrowing and no revenue increases would likely force the state to prioritize existing projects and delay any that are in the works. Walker said Thursday that it’s unlikely the state will see any major new projects started in the next biennium, and the state will focus on how to continue those that are already underway. “I think it’s really important for us to maintain existing infrastructure, and not to be looking at adding new projects,” the governor said.
AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker discusses deciding road project priorities (:32)
Walker said any decisions about which projects see delays would be based on “safety needs” and maintenance.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) said the possibility of halting or slowing down projects could be a “non-starter” for many Republicans. “The backbone of our economy is our infrastructure. We have projects throughout the state that are crucial to economic growth,” he said. “I just don’t see how we can kick the can down the road for another two years.”