A retiring Wisconsin lawmaker says the state’s rural roads are badly in need of repairs. “We still have a lot of roads in need. We have a lot of bridges that need attention,” said Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg), who represents the 50th Assembly District west of Madison.
Brooks said that surveys by his office show constituents in support of gas tax or registration fee increases, to pay for the costs of transportation infrastructure. “Modest increases. But every increase helps to fund additional things in the rural community, and the state,” Brooks said. “We’ve got some major projects coming up, but we’ve also got a lot of farm to market roads that are just as important.”
Wisconsin continues to fare poorly, in 50 state road quality rankings. Brooks said he differs with Governor Scott Walker, who among other things has called for greater efficiency in transportation budgeting. “Eventually you get to where you can’t squeeze any more moisture out of a sponge,” said Brooks, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2008.
Brooks comments come as Walker, who is running for reelection in November, is being criticized for the condition of Wisconsin roads. His former Secretary of Transportation, Mark Gottlieb, delivered a rebuke to his former boss, in an interview with the Capital Times.
“This administration has prioritized not raising fuel taxes over maintaining the transportation system, and they need to accept the consequences of that decision,” Gottlieb said. Brooks noted that while Walker’s most recent budget did distribute more money to rural roads, “there were no new dollars in the budget.”
Brooks is the 13th legislator and the 10th Republican to decide not to seek reelection this year.