On June 27, Governor Walker sent the Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Gottlieb a letter requesting DOT’s full budget submission in September. Typically, DOT submits their budget request in November.
In his letter, the governor asked the secretary to identify efficiency savings and prioritize projects based on needs. He also stated that the request should focus on maintenance and therefore, include an increase in local road aids and state highway maintenance. The governor also directed DOT to minimize spending on the mega projects in southeastern Wisconsin, this includes construction on the Zoo Interchange and the I-94 north-south freeway project.
The governor reiterated his position that there should be no tax or fee increases for road projects in the DOT budget, unless there is an equal or greater cut in other taxes. The governor’s direction in the letter comes as no surprise, as he continues to be very vocal and straightforward about his position on revenue increases in the transportation budget.
Even though the 2017-18 legislative session is six months away, the debate over transportation funding is already taking shape. In response to the governor’s letter and push to minimize mega projects, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos expressed his concerns with the governor’s directive. Meanwhile, Sen. Stroebel issued a press release praising the governor’s commitment to no new revenue and focus on road maintenance.
Commentary and debate over transportation funding will continue and certainly pick up when DOT submits their full 2017-19 budget submission in September.