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Budget Committee Scheduled To Consider Transportation Spending, Foxconn Bill This Week

Local Officials Angling Vying For Road Money To Fund Highway Projects

Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has a busy week ahead. Lawmakers have scheduled votes on the state’s $3 billion Foxconn incentives package, not to mention the rest of the state budget.

The spending plan is two months past deadline, largely because Republicans who run state government have been at odds over how to fund roads. GOP leaders have said they won’t raise the gas tax, and without that influx of new revenue, some road projects may not get off the ground.

The committee is tentatively scheduled to take up the contentious transportation issues this week, leaving backers of major highway expansions scrambling to get their projects included.

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An expansion of Interstate-94 south of Milwaukee that has languished for years would move forward as part of the Foxconn bill. Now Republicans like Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow are trying to get a 3-mile stretch of the highway expanded west of Milwaukee, between the Marquette and Milwaukee Zoo interchanges, too.

“All we’re asking is that they continue that through the 94 corridor that now comes east-west,” Farrow said.

Farrow said they’re asking for a formal declaration by the Legislature that the state will commit to the project, known as “enumeration.”

“Without the enumeration, our concern is that the federal government is going to say, ‘OK, if it’s not a high priority for you, we’re going to drop it to the bottom of the pile and probably won’t get back to it for a decade or so,’” Farrow said.

Committing to the project would cost the state $20 million to $30 million in this budget, but it would eventually cost the state more than $1 billion to build.