Dave Ross has cleared a state Senate Committee on his way to being approved as state transportation secretary. Ross told committee members that the state has over-committed, in scheduling major highway projects, and that the problem with the state’s transportation funding is one of spending, and not revenues.
“What we did basically is we decided to remodel our kitchen, our bathroom and our rec room all at the same time,” Ross said. He said the federal government has warned the state — twice — about such over-commitment.
“We’ve maximized every dollar that can go into the backbone system, using federal resources. It’s just that the feds are telling us now that if we take anything else on there’s a good chance they are not going to approve any projects in the state of Wisconsin. That’s a pretty serious threat.”
The latest state audit found $3 billion in cost overruns on major transportation projects in Wisconsin.
Senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee was one of two Democrats on panel — along with Green Bay Senator Dave Hansen — to vote against Ross. “I’m really torn on which way to vote on the confirmation, because I really like you. But I just don’t see how you or anyone else can step foreword and solve the problem,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know why you want the job.”
Ross succeeds Mark Gottlieb, who resigned as DOT Secretary in January. He previously severed as Secretary of the state Department of Safety and Professional Services. Ross is also a former mayor of the City of Superior.
The Senate Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs also approved the appointments of Daniel Zimmerman as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Yash Wadhwa as state Railroad Commissioner. All three appointments will also require approval by the full state Senate.