Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to lay out his plans for the state’s next budget during a speech before the state Legislature on Wednesday afternoon.
Walker has spent much of the past of few weeks drawing attention to his plans to put more money into rural schools, increase the UW System’s budget while reducing tuition and make sure that children with disabilities can obtain long-term support more quickly. Although some of these proposals are likely to give rise to controversy — the tuition decrease in particular — the most intense debate will probably be reserved for Walker’s transportation proposals.
Last year, the governor directed the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to put forward a budget that would pay for long-planned projects without relying greatly on new borrowing or increases in the state’s gas tax or other revenue sources. The resulting plan — which calls for less than half the new bonding authorized in the current budget — would come at the cost of delays to some of the biggest ongoing road work in the state, including the final phase of the Zoo Interchange reconstruction and the widening of Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Illinois.
Once Walker officially releases his budget, the Republican-controlled Legislature will make changes over the next four months or so. The plan is expected to be officially adopted sometime around July.