Gov. Walker stresses importance of transportation budget

Gov. Walker stresses importance of transportation budget. (WLUK/Courtney Ryan)

NEENAH (WLUK) -- At a news conference Thursday, Governor Scott Walker stressed the need for lawmakers to reach an agreement on the transportation budget.

He and Republican legislative leaders have been at odds on how to address a nearly $1-billion shortfall to the transportation budget.

The 10/441 expansion project is one of four road projects Governor Walker included in his budget proposal, keeping it on track for the next two years.

"Our message is simple get it done," Walker told reporters.

For the past few months, the transportation budget has been the center of debate for lawmakers.

"There is some discussion in the Capitol, we don't know how significant it may be, but that the transportation budget could be broken off," explained Walker.

Walker explained if transportation was taken up as its own bill, and not part of the budget, projects like 10/441 could be slowed down.

"The only way we have troubles with major projects like this and with local road aids is if we don't have a transportation budget by July 1," said Walker.

The only plan put forward, so far, was by Assembly Republicans.

It included an increase in taxes at the pump, something Walker and the Senate are both against.

"We absolutely want to make sure that we are applying the right resources to transportation, but I don't think raising taxes on taxpayers again is the answer to that problem," explained State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton.

However, Democratic State Representative Amanda Stuck says an increase in the gas tax could be a long term solution.

"I do think there is consensus on both sides of the aisle that we may be able to increase the gas tax, get indexing, get some of those things that we know we need long term, where there would be enough to get it passed," said Stuck, D-Appleton.

"I do think at the end of the day, that the transportation budget will look pretty doggone close to what the Governor wants to do," explained State. Rep. Dave Murphy. R-Greenville.

Murphy said despite differences on transportation, he is confident lawmakers will find common ground in time to pass the budget.

" I don't think we are nearly as far apart on a budget here, as a lot of people would like to think we are," said Murphy.

The budget committee is expected to take up the transportation budget in two weeks.

It still needs approval from the full Legislature.

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