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Additional revenue, savings mean $100 million more for state road projects

Savings on state highway projects during the current fiscal year will allow the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to pay for an additional 21 projects beginning in June, department officials announced Thursday.

In a statement, Gov. Scott Walker said he is directing WisDOT to pay for another $65 million worth of projects in the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30. In addition, the department is projecting it will bring in an additional $38 million worth of revenue, which the state Legislature can include in the 2017-19 budget.

“In total, these actions free up more than $100 million in funds for additional transportation projects due to new revenues and savings,” Walker said.

The additional money comes from lower fuel prices and more competition through bidding on projects, according to WisDOT. Using these savings now means the department will be able to undertake more road work in the current fiscal year and provide more money for transportation in the next budget, which is currently being hashed out by lawmakers.

“The redirected let savings and increased revenue forecasts are great news for the state,” Walker said. “We’ll do more projects and bond $44.8 million less than planned.”

The state’s transportation plans have been a source of controversy for state lawmakers lately, perhaps more so than any other part of the state’s proposed 2017-19 budget.

Some members of the GOP, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Rochester, say the budget lacks a long-term means of paying for road maintenance and expansion projects. Walker and other Republicans have responded by saying they will not support any proposal to increase the state’s gas tax.

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