State Budget Fell Short on Highways?
Legislators in both parties say budget lacked long-term solution to state’s transportation woes.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned about the future of road funding in Wisconsin, despite nearly $400 million in new revenue allotted in the newly minted state budget.
Speaking Monday on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show,” state Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and Assistant Majority Leader Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, raised concerns about the state’s long-term plan for funding transportation projects.
“This is the first new revenue that we’ve seen in a while, but again, a lot of it’s one-time (funding),” Hintz said. “We’re going to be back in the same position in two years.”
Hintz expressed some frustration with that plan, saying it doesn’t spread the burden of road funding to tourists and other out-of-state road users.
“When you’re driving down the highway and see someone with an Illinois license plate or a Chicago Bears sticker, remember they’re not going to be paying the increased fees everybody in Wisconsin is,” he said.
“I think we want to capture, the more you drive, the more you should pay,” he said.
Evers proposed an 8-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase in his budget, but the provision was removed by Republicans who control the Assembly and Senate.
During budget debates, Republicans argued the gas tax isn’t a long-term funding solution, as electric and hybrid vehicles gain popularity.
“I think that’s something that’s going to be an ongoing conversation as we look to more electric vehicles, as we look to different ways of how people travel, if they’re going to be doing more mass transit,” Felzkowski said.
Felzkowski agreed with Hintz that the new budget, which went into effect immediately after the governor acted last week, doesn’t provide a long-term solution to road funding.
“I think the transportation fund is going to be a constant conversation going forward,” she said.
Lawmakers Present Mixed Feelings On Tolling
Both lawmakers also weighed in on the prospect of tolling in Wisconsin in light of the governor’s action to block another state study on the issue.
Evers used his veto pen to eliminate a $2.5 million state analysis on the possibility of implementing tolling or mileage-based fees in Wisconsin.
In his veto message, the governor said he objects “to the financing of another study that will show, yet again, that the motor fuel tax is the most effective way to approximate a user fee of roadway use and the most cost-effective way to collect revenue.”
“The Legislature has had more than enough evidence and enough time to study the issue,” Evers wrote. “It is time for the Legislature to stop stalling and act to secure a long-term transportation funding solution.”
Republican lawmakers have included the tolling study in the last two state budgets. Former Gov. Scott Walker also vetoed it, saying the state Department of Transportation could evaluate tolling without it.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has called the study the last step before the state can move forward with getting necessary federal approvals for tolling.
Of tolling, Felzkowski cited concern about federal restrictions on where the booths could be installed.
“It would only be (allowed) in expansion areas, like if we added another lane,” she said. “We can’t just implement tolling, because of federal restrictions. Otherwise, I think that would be a very viable option and I think we would jump on that going forward.”
Hintz said tolls can be “inefficient,” as not all of the revenue they generate goes directly to road projects.
“Toll booths have become another word for ‘punting,'” he said.
GOP Concern Over Evers’ Veto
Felzkowski also raised concerns about one of the governor’s 78 vetoes in the budget — a provision that eliminated earmarks within the state’s transportation fund for local road projects.
Under the veto, Evers eliminated the requirement that millions in state money be funneled specifically to counties, cities, towns and villages, instead allowing the DOT to allocate the money as it sees fit.
“I object to the restrictions that these constraints place on the department to fund grants to the most needed projects throughout the state,” he wrote in his veto message. “The effect of this partial veto will be to allow the department to prioritize the most critical transit and transportation needs.”
Felzkowski said that veto created a “slush fund” for the DOT, possibly at the expense of some smaller communities across the state.
“It was very much an attack on rural and northern Wisconsin,” she said. “I think the money is there … I’m just hoping that they don’t forget about the entire state as the money is distributed.”
Listen to the WPR report.
Lawmakers: Budget Falls Short Of Long-Term Road Funding Solution was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
More about the 2019-2021 Wisconsin Budget
- State Budget Fell Short on Highways? - Laurel White - Jul 8th, 2019
- Rep. LaKeshia Myers Supports Governor Evers’ Partial Vetoes - State Rep. LaKeshia Myers - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Statement: Wisconsin’s biennial budget will speed up transition to electric vehicles and improve public transit - WISPIRG Foundation - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Majority Leader Fitzgerald Reacts to Governor Evers Signing the Wisconsin Budget - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Evers Uses 78 Partial Vetoes on Budget - Laurel White - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Rep. Bowen Statement on Gov. Evers’ Signing of Biennial Budget - State Rep. David Bowen - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Promises Made, Promises Kept: Gov. Evers Signs Wisconsin’s 2019-21 Biennial Budget into Law - Gov. Tony Evers - Jul 3rd, 2019
- Budget Bill The Shortest in Decades - Shawn Johnson - Jun 30th, 2019
- Op Ed: Budget Should Plan For the Future - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Jun 29th, 2019
- Majority Leader Fitzgerald Statement on the Passage of the Wisconsin Budget - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Jun 26th, 2019
- Statement from Rep. Brostoff on Passage of Republican Budget - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Jun 26th, 2019
- Rep. Bowen Statement on Passage of Watered-Down Republican Budget - State Rep. David Bowen - Jun 26th, 2019
- Republican Budget is Replete with Countless Missed Opportunities - State Rep. LaKeshia Myers - Jun 25th, 2019
- Budget Committee Debates Stewardship Program - Danielle Kaeding - May 28th, 2019
- Republicans Refuse to Allow Votes on Budget Proposals to Help People Vote - One Wisconsin Now - May 14th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Responds to GOP Rejection of Medicaid Expansion - State Rep. Robyn Vining - May 9th, 2019
- Gov. Evers’ Statement on Joint Finance Committee Action - Gov. Tony Evers - May 9th, 2019
- Leader Fitzgerald Applauds Joint Finance Committee Eliminating Over $1 Billion in Gov. Evers’ Tax Hikes - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - May 9th, 2019
- Scores of People Attend State Budget Hearing - Bridgit Bowden - Apr 6th, 2019
- Legislators Resist Many Evers Proposals - Laurel White - Apr 5th, 2019
- Republicans Call for Reset of Evers’ Budget - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Apr 4th, 2019
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- Evers Wants $2.5 Billion Capital Budget - Shawn Johnson - Mar 11th, 2019
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- School Leaders Back Evers Funding Plan - John Davis - Mar 7th, 2019
- WILL Budget Explainer: The Administrative State - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Mar 7th, 2019
- Governor Evers Makes Historic Investments in Health Care Coverage and Access - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Mar 6th, 2019
- Evers’ Budget Allows Immigrants In-State Tuition - Phoebe Petrovic - Mar 6th, 2019
- Murphy’s Law: Who Will Win State Budget Battle? - Bruce Murphy - Mar 5th, 2019
- The State of Politics: Governor’s Veto Power Looms Large - Steven Walters - Mar 4th, 2019
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- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Responds to Governor Evers’ Budget Address - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Feb 28th, 2019
- Rep. Considine Statement on Governor’s Budget - State Rep. Dave Considine - Feb 28th, 2019
- Senator Craig Responds to Governor Evers’ Budget Address - State Sen. David Craig - Feb 28th, 2019
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- Milwaukee Area Labor Council Reaction State Budget - Milwaukee Area Labor Council - Feb 28th, 2019
- Statement from Rep. Brostoff in Support of Gov. Evers’ Redistricting Plan - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Feb 28th, 2019
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- Rep. Mark Spreitzer Applauds Gov. Evers’s Budget Address - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 28th, 2019
- Gov. Tony Evers’ Budget Plan: Progress on Solutions for Student Loan Borrowers and Protections for Wisconsin Voter Rights - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 28th, 2019
- Governor Evers Gives 2019-21 Biennial Budget Address - Gov. Tony Evers - Feb 28th, 2019
- MacIver Responds To Reporters Being Barred From Evers Budget Briefing - MacIver Institute - Feb 28th, 2019
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