Gov. Scott Walker says there's "no appetite" for a gas or sales tax increases to fund transportation projects in Wisconsin. It raises questions about how the governor will pay for one of his top priorities in the upcoming budget.
While an increase to the gas tax or a sales tax on gas would provide an infusion of money to the roads budget, Gov. Walker says he's not interested, "You know, people can make all the arguments in the world, but I just don't see the public having an appetite, and in turn, neither I nor the majority of the members in the legislature do."
But Walker won't rule out finding new money for transportation somehow, "We think there are some other alternatives. We've looked at some things in the past in terms of some money was raided from the transportation fund and put in the general fund. There might be some ways to put back some of that that was raided."
Gov. Scott Walker's last budget moved $160 million out of the state's general fund--which funds education and health care--into the transportation fund. Robert Kraig with Citizen Action Wisconsin says the trouble is it puts those vital programs into competition with roads, "You have to look at each budget, but it is a disturbing trend because it could put a lot of other programs at risk."
While road-builders won't object to using money from the general fund to pay for transportation, Craig Thompson with the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association says the state needs a more long-term solution, "It is an appropriate use of general funds to use for transportation at some level. But I think there needs to be something tied to the users of the system on an ongoing basis. We can't only rely on just some infusions of general fund money."
Thompson sits on a commission that's recommending new transportation funding ideas to the governor, including potentially a new mileage-based registration fee. His panel releases its final report later this month.