Wisconsin’s administrative departments have submitted their budget requests before Gov. Tony Evers releases his spending plan to the Legislature in February. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation requested more than $160 million in bond revenues for major highway development and administration facility construction in the 2023-25 biennial cycle.
A report from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed an overview of 2023-25 budget requests from each state agency submitted on Nov. 21. The document shares requests with a fiscal effect above $250,000 or which represent a significant policy change.
The Department of Administration estimated in November a budget surplus of $6.5 billion at the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year. Officials called the state’s excess funds “its strongest position in state history.”
The Department of Corrections, the Department of Natural Resources, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Safety and Professional Services were among agencies that asked for money for construction-related projects.
Here’s what the agencies requested and what projects they plan to use the money for.
Department of Transportation
Department of Transportation officials requested $167,714,300 in bond revenues for large highway projects and administrative facility construction, the report showed. The department has a carryover balance of $80,571,100 in unused transportation revenue bond authority available for the next two years.
If the Legislature grants WisDOT’s request, the department would receive $248,285,400 in ongoing revenue bond authority, the report said. Department officials would use $162,023,200 in the biennium for two purposes:
- A total of $75,511,600 yearly for the major highway development program; and
- A total of $9,250,000 yearly for administrative facility construction projects.
Of the department’s potential funds, $82,762,200 would be used to start projects in the 2023-25 fiscal years but wouldn’t complete them.
WisDOT officials said the estimated debt service on outstanding transportation revenue bonds in the next two years would be a total of $188.1 million in 2023-24 and $178.4 million in 2024-25. Estimated debt service on outstanding transportation bonds was $198.6 million in 2022-23.
WisDOT also asked for funding for multiple projects to assist local transit for the next few years.
- A total of $50 million to help with the Southern Bridge connector project in Brown County;
- A total of $20 million in bond revenue to preserve freight rail and update rail lines to modern standards;
- A total of $16 million in bond revenue to assist harbors in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River system;
- A total of $43,140,000 in federal revenue finances and local revenues from a state segregated fund to build infrastructure for electric cars;
- A total of $179,424,700 in federal and local funds to improve local transportation facilities;
- A total of $112,500,000 in federal and local allocation for the bridge improvement assistance program;
- A total of $27,698,300 in combined federal and local funds for alternative, non-motorized transportation facilities like pedestrians and bicycles;
- A total of $11,264,600 in federal and local funds for congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program; and
- A total of $5,704,100 in federal funds for the railroad crossing improvement program.
The state transportation department asked for a total of $1,356,876,400 in combined segregated money, federal funds and bonds for the state highway program in 2023-24 and 2024-25, the report showed. This amount breaks down to $1,049,606,200 for state highway rehabilitation, $284,466,300 for major highway development and $22,803,900 for southeast Wisconsin freeway megaprojects.
Department of Safety and Professional Services
DSPS asked for 25 positions added to its commercial building plan review staff in the Division of Industry Services and $3,936,200 in program revenues to fund three plans to advance reviews, the report said. These plans wouldn’t need to be implemented entirely and were suggested by construction industry partners.
Here are the agency’s plans to advance reviews with the funds.
- A total of $1,080,500 over the next two years for seven permanent workers to conduct plan reviews scheduled ahead of paperwork submission;
- A total of $1,098,800 over the next two years for 14 permanent positions to review building and plumbing plans in four weeks or less; and
- A total of $620,200 to provide four positions to review small and simple building and plumbing plans in one week.
Department of Corrections
Wisconsin’s corrections department asked for $1,805,200 in general purpose revenues available in the state’s general fund to repair and maintain adult institutions, the report showed. Officials adjusted their funding after they estimated the construction cost index to increase 8% every six months through 2023 and 4% every six months beginning in 2024. Base funding for institutional repair and maintenance is $5,340,100 each year, the report added.
Department of Natural Resources
The state wildlife agency asked for a total of $10 million in bond revenues for dam repair, reconstruction and removal projects, the report said. DNR’s current dam safety program gives matching grants to municipal governments to fix, rebuild or remove dams while under agency inspection and direction.
Public Service Commission
The commission asked for a total of $340,000 for the next two years to pay for licensing and other costs for advanced engineering modeling software, the report said. PSC wants to use the software to better review application materials from utilities that apply for construction projects or rate changes.