The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee approved a two-year transportation budget on Sept. 5 that would borrow $400 million and institute a new $100 fee on electric motor vehicles and a $75 fee on hybrid motor vehicles to fund the state’s transportation infrastructure needs. The new fees are projected to generate $8.4 million over the next two years. Additionally, the budget would require a study on interstate tolling to be completed by 2019, would repeal the prevailing wage for state building or highway projects, and would eliminate 200 positions in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation(WisDOT). The proposal, which passed the committee 12-4 with no Democratic support, will now go before the full Assembly and Senate.
The same day, business leaders from Madison, Wis., called on lawmakers to reach a deal that would end the two-month delay of a transportation budget. Leaders cited concerns that project days on the Verona Road/Highway 151 area were affecting local businesses’ bottom line.
A 2016 report by WisDOT warned that, at then-current 2015-2017 transportation budget funding levels, the number of state highway miles rated in poor and below condition would increase by 93 percent. The newly proposed 2017-2019 budget cuts the state highway rehabilitation program by $79 million, the program’s lowest funding level since the 2011-2013 biennium.