Walker open to tolling interstates, with conditions

Lauren Perry
May 31, 2017

Governor Walker may be open to charging tolls on Wisconsin's interstates.

"But it would have to include a reduction in the gas tax for Wisconsin residents", Walker added. Those rules may be changed under the Trump administration.

He said separating the roads budget could drag out the budget process or leave the state without a new roads budget at a time when major highway projects are underway.

Also on Tuesday, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that the state transportation fund will end the two-year budget cycle with almost $102 million. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had been open to increasing road-funding revenue and is opposed to an increase in bond-borrowing.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said Walker's interest in tying tolling to a gas tax cut might be feasible if the result is a significant net increase in funding for transportation over the long term. In addition to the I-39-90 project, they include expansions of Verona Road from Raymond Road to McKee Road in the Madison area, of Highway 10/Highway 441 in the Fox Valley and of Highway 15 in Outagamie County. "If there is no transportation budget, you'd see about a 45 percent reduction in the amount of money for majors (major highway projects)".

Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, a Neenah Republican, said, "The governor is proposing a fairly high level of bonding in order to accomplish that, and we're trying to look at some creative ways to increase revenues into the transportation fund so we don't have to do as much borrowing as the governor". They say the governor's plan borrows too much and doesn't put transportation on a sustainable funding track for the future. "Let's just get it done".

Walker used the report to repeat his call for the Legislature not to raise gas taxes or fees to pay for roads.

Some of Walker's fellow Republicans in the state Legislature have been a hard sell.

Later Tuesday, Walker's office released a statement saying the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is projecting that the state's 2017-19 transportation fund will close out with $100 million more than previously estimated.

He suggested that either scenario could spell delays to several projects now in progress-including the I-90/39 expansion project between Beloit and Madison.

Other reports by VgToday

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