The Latest: Republicans approve Wisconsin road-funding plan
Posted September 5
MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on Wisconsin state budget (all times local):
The Legislature's budget-writing committee has approved a road-funding plan that would borrow about $400 million, raise fees on electric and hybrid vehicles but not increase the gas tax.
The Joint Finance Committee approved the plan late Tuesday night as it moves to complete its work on the $76 million budget that's two months late.
Democrats say Republicans have failed by not finding a long-term funding solution for roads. Gov. Scott Walker was steadfastly opposed to raising the gas tax, but he's signaled support for the $75 hybrid vehicle and $100 electric car fee.
The GOP plan would also repeal the prevailing wage for state projects, limit local regulation of quarries used for construction projects and study the possibility of interstate tolling years from now.
It passed on a 12-4 vote, with no Democrats in support.
Democrats say Republicans have failed with a proposal that borrows about $400 million to help pay for Wisconsin road projects but comes up with no long-term funding solution.
The GOP spending plan was up for approval by the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday.
The plan would impose a new fee on electric and hybrid car owners, but there is no gas tax increase or other revenue hike that would help shore up funding for roads into the future.
Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach says road funding is a bipartisan problem, but Republicans went alone and are only making the state's problem worse.
The committee's Republican co-chairs both say they wish they could have done more, but this is a good start.
A 7.5-mile stretch of Interstate 94 in western Wisconsin between the Twin Cities and St. Croix County would be rebuilt and expanded to six lanes under a proposal up for approval in the Wisconsin state budget.
Republicans called for the $144 million in funding for the project Tuesday. It comes at the same time they are calling for forbidding funding of two projects in the Milwaukee area near the Zoo interchange.
The Eau Claire project was recommended by the Transportation Projects Commission in 2014. The area targeted for expansion is a federally designated truck route.
The Joint Finance Committee was expected to vote on approving the funding late Tuesday night as it works on finishing the $76 billion state budget by Wednesday.
Local governments would be prohibited from passing any ordinance that violates the spirit of a state law under a Republican-authored proposal.
The Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee was considering the idea Tuesday. It was included in a broad road-funding proposal that also includes imposing a new fee on electric and hybrid vehicles and borrows about $410 million for road projects.
Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach says the restrictions on local governments would negate the need for city councils, county board and town boards.
The measure would prohibit counties, cities, villages or towns from passing any ordinance that logically conflicts with, defeats the purpose of or violates the spirit of a state law.
The committee was expected to vote on it late Tuesday night.
Republicans are proposing limiting local government oversight of quarries in Wisconsin.
The Legislature's budget committee was considering a proposal Tuesday that would reduce the ability of local governments from placing any limits or conditions on quarry operations in the state. A spokesman for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the powerful state chamber of commerce, says it opposes the changes.
The changes were part of a broad transportation funding proposal the Republican-controlled committee was voting on before completing work on the budget.
The proposal would borrow about $410 million for roads, impose a new fee on electric and hybrid car owners, spend $2.5 million on a toll roads study and repeal the prevailing wage for state building and highway projects.
The committee hoped to finish its work on the budget by Wednesday.
Wisconsin Republicans say they have reached a deal on transportation funding that would impose a new fee on electric and hybrid vehicles and borrow around $410 million.
Co-chairs of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee say they plan to complete its work on the budget Tuesday so the Senate and Assembly can take it up later this month.
Rep. John Nygren says he's disappointed the budget won't include a long-term funding solution for transportation. And he says any road projects already enumerated will not be delayed.
The proposal up for a committee vote Tuesday will include a new $100 fee for electric vehicles and $75 for hybrid vehicles. That's on top of the $75 fee all vehicles pay now.
The $410 million in borrowing includes $250 million for Interstate 94 rebuilding between Milwaukee and the Illinois border.
Madison-area business leaders are calling on Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature to come up with a state budget that includes a long-term funding solution for roads.
The business leaders joined with Democrats on Tuesday to put pressure on Republicans to act with the budget now two months late. How to pay for road projects is the largest remaining unsolved issue.
The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to finish work on the two-year spending plan, including roads.
Committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren told The Associated Press to "stay tuned" on Tuesday when asked if there's a deal yet on transportation funding.
Business owners along Verona Road south of Madison said Tuesday delays in work on that project have hurt them.