Governor Scott Walker is promising more transportation dollars in the upcoming state budget, but some mayors wonder if those dollars will meet travelers' needs.
The governor is nixing an idea that was floated this week, of increasing the state gas tax to boost transportation funding. He says he may instead steer some of the projected state budget surplus to the transportation sector. "I, and I think the majority of the lawmakers in the state, don't have an appetite for a gas tax increase. Having more breathing room on the surplus may offset the need for a gas tax or another revenue source out there. For us, it's comprehensive: It's roads, it's bridges, it's freight rail, it's ports, it's airports, it's transit — all those things would be a part of it. So overall, we're looking to add to the transportation budget."
Some local officials — members of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities — are putting their transportation funding thoughts on the table. Racine Mayor John Dickert heads an Urban Alliance. He says it would reduce congestion by improving mass transit options, "We should be building more efficient, streamlined transportation networks. We should have buses that cross county lines, and busses that are efficient and effective, not only for our businesses and our people going to work, but more importantly, for seniors, for the handicapped, and the kids wanting to get around and not have an automobile."
Dickert also says if the governor wants to spend some of the state budget surplus on transportation, he could reverse some of the cuts in local shared revenue, allowing cities to put more of that money into things like fixing potholes.