As state budget talks continue, Governor Scott Walker says the possibility of taking up transportation funding separately could lead to delays and cuts in state road projects.
“Major projects could see about a 45 percent reduction and there would be no increase for local governments,” the governor warned, during a press conference in Neenah Thursday morning. “To me, that’s just unacceptable.”
While transportation funding has been taken up separately from the full budget before, Walker on Thursday called on lawmakers to avoid doing it this session. “Our message is simple – get it done,” Walker said.
Lawmakers and the governor have been largely divided over how to handle transportation funding in the budget. Walker’s original budget called for delaying some projects and more borrowing to help pay for roads, while many lawmakers have rejected that plan.
Assembly GOP leaders have said all options needs to be on the table, including gas tax and vehicle registration fee increases. They introduced a plan earlier this month that would cut the gas tax, while applying state sales taxes to fuel purchases to help pay for roads. Walker has spoken out against that proposal.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) said his members are willing to negotiate on transportation. However, he said that actually requires both sides being willing to compromise. “In any successful negotiation, you have to have at least two parties willing to make some concessions…and at this point, I’m not sure what the governor is willing to deal on because the goal posts keep moving on what he is willing to accept.”
Steineke also argued that public support is not there for the governor’s plan. “Everybody we talk to thinks it’s crazy to delay projects and make them more expensive in the future, or…just continue to put the cost of these things on the credit card,” he said. “Everybody I talk to thinks that we should pay for it as we go.”