MILWAUKEE (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker plans to rely on borrowing rather than a gas tax increase to increase the money available for transportation projects over the next two years.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the governor’s plan calls for $1.3 billion in borrowing for transportation, but the state’s overall borrowing would drop because Walker wants to delay construction of buildings that don’t already have initial approval, including projects in the University of Wisconsin system.
The newspaper reported that the plan will let Walker tout his opposition to raising taxes as he considers a possible run for president, but that the increased reliance on borrowing to fund highways may not go over well with his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature.
Walker plans to formally introduce the proposal Tuesday. Lawmakers will spend the next few months reshaping it.
“Walker’s goal, as stated multiple times, is to lower the burden on the hardworking taxpayers of the state every year he is in office while continuing to invest in his priorities,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in a written statement.
Two years ago, Walker and GOP lawmakers approved $2 billion in borrowing. About half was for buildings and maintenance and about half was for transportation. Walker’s new plan contains no new borrowing for buildings because the state has $858 million in unused bonding authority it can still use.
Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, co-chairwoman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said wants to see Walker’s overall plan before deciding how much borrowing she could support. She also said she wants to see a sustainable system for funding roads.
“The can keeps getting kicked down the road,” she said. “I’d say right now everything’s on the table.”
Walker’s transportation secretary, Mark Gottlieb, in November recommended increasing gas taxes and vehicle fees by $751 million over two years. Walker’s office said he rejected those proposals.