Assembly held after WisDOT’s budget shortfall

Facing a nearly $1 billion shortfall

Road builders, local governments, business leaders, agricultural interests, and environmentalists, are all getting the opportunity to weigh in on how to pay for improving Wisconsin’s roads.

The state Assembly’s Transportation Committee scheduled an informational hearing for Tuesday on the topic, after the state Department of Transportation faces a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall. WisDOT is proposing solving the shortfall through increased borrowing and delaying work on major projects over the next two years.

DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified, Tuesday, before the Assembly Transportation Committee, saying the $500 million in borrowing proposed in the department’s budget would be the lowest level in 15 years and is a 41-percent reduction from what was borrowed in the last two years.

Republican chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, John Nygren, says the proposed budget is essentially a divestment in roads. Nygren’s comments came during Gottlieb’s testimony, and is joining with other lawmakers in questioning whether the budget put forward is the most responsible plan.

Gottlieb says the budget, that doesn’t raise gas taxes or fees, was put together under the guidelines provided by Gov. Walker. He continued, saying that based on planned spending levels, the condition of the roads across the state will continue to deteriorate over the next decade.

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