Skip to comments.Scott Walker says he's open to tolling
Posted on 06/17/2017 5:01:39 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
BELOIT Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signaled hes open to charging tolls on Wisconsins Interstates, but with a key condition: linking it to a reduction in the states 30.9-cent-per-gallon gas tax.
Walker also said an impasse over the states next transportation budget risks costly delays to billion-dollar highway projects now under construction. That includes a $1.2 billion expansion of Interstate 39-90 from the Madison area to the Illinois state line.
The Interstate formed the backdrop for Walkers remarks in a press conference at a Beloit rest stop.
Republicans who control the state Assembly have proposed seeking federal approval to toll Interstates, which they say would help stabilize road and bridge finances in the long term. Interstate tolling would take years and hundreds of millions in upfront costs to implement. The first step would be to seek federal approval, the granting of which is not certain.
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said this month that tolling is something that needs to be explored.
Walker said Tuesday that a tolling plan would be something wed look at.
But it would have to include a reduction in the gas tax for Wisconsin residents, Walker added. He did not specify how much of a reduction would be necessary.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said Walkers interest in tying tolling to a gas tax cut might be feasible if the result is a significant net increase in funding for transportation over the long term. Since tolling is a long-term proposition, it would not provide new revenue for the next state budget.
A July 1 deadline looms in budget talks; its the start of the state fiscal year and of the next two-year budget cycle.
The only thing that would endanger the transportation part of the budget from getting done on time is if we dont have willing partners in negotiation, Steineke said. Everyone knows in a negotiation, everyone has to give a little to get a little.
Legislative Democrats and some Republicans say gas tax increases should be considered for the transportation budget.
The state faces a growing backlog of road and bridge projects, and many in both parties say it cannot continue to rely on borrowing and delaying projects to balance the funding ledger.
So Walkers call to link tolling to a gas-tax cut may complicate already-fraught budget negotiations.
It just seems like weve taken yet one more option off the table, said Craig Thompson, director of the state Transportation Development Association, which advocates for more funding for roads, bridges and transit.
Fitzgerald, in a statement from a spokeswoman Tuesday, said he would like to see tolling remain part of the conversation.
He continues to advocate for a legislative transportation solution that Gov. Walker will support, Fitzgerald spokeswoman Myranda Tanck said.
Some Republican lawmakers have suggested splitting transportation from the larger state budget. Such a move could enable some Democrats to support the transportation measure and could give lawmakers more time to reach an agreement.
But Walker said Tuesday that a budget split would delay work on some highway projects because it likely would mean there would be no new transportation budget in place by July 1.
If only a week or two passes after July 1 before Walker and lawmakers agree on a transportation budget, construction on ongoing major projects likely wouldnt be affected, Walker said. In addition to the I-39-90 project, the projects include expansions of Verona Road from Raymond Road to McKee Road in the Madison area, of Highway 10/Highway 441 in the Fox Valley and of Highway 15 in Outagamie County.
But under multiple months delay, or if no new transportation budget were enacted at all, current funding levels would carry over into the next two-year cycle.
Under that scenario, Walker predicted all four active major highway projects would be affected. Which ones would be delayed, and by how much, would be decided by the state Department of Transportation, he said.
Some tough decisions would have to be made by the Department of Transportation, Walker said. My message is simple: lets just get it done.
Walker has proposed to fund all four ongoing major highway projects in his budget proposal, keeping their construction on track for the next two years. It would come at the expense of large freeway projects in southeast Wisconsin, which would see a 70 percent funding reduction under the governors plan.
For months the transportation debate has centered on whether to increase gas taxes or vehicle fees to ease the states backlog of road and bridge projects.
Walker opposes the move and proposed a budget that holds the line on taxes and fees. The plan relies on $500 million in borrowing a problem for some legislative Republicans wary of putting more on the states credit card.
He cited a new memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau saying the states transportation fund, filled mostly by gas taxes and vehicle fees, is expected to end the next budget cycle, from 2017-19, with more than $93 million more than previously projected. Thats due to revised projections of higher gas tax revenues and lower debt service costs, the bureau said.
The I-39-90 project is the costliest of the ongoing major projects. Walker repeatedly has described it as a priority project to move tourist traffic into Wisconsin and for businesses along the corridor, which goes through Beloit, Janesville and Madison.
Not included in the $1.2 billion estimate for the project is the reconstruction of the Madison Beltline interchange with I-39-90, which was part of its original scope. DOT Secretary Dave Ross has said the departments estimate for that part of the project, $550 million, is totally unacceptable and the department will re-evaluate it.Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a statement that legislative Democrats want a long-term solution to pay for roads.
reduce/eliminate gas taxes
fully privatize interstates ( not a BS concession or lease )
is the way to go
let the free market do its magic - increase quality, lower costs
Just another scam to add a new taxing mechanism.
It’s been done before.
Any reduction in other taxes to offset the new tax always ends up to be temporary.
Then you end up with both the old tax and the new tax.
Replacing one tax with another never works. You always end up with both.
Tolling will increase the cost of everything. Bad for everyone.
There are no alternatives to interstates. It is not like buying cereal or other goods.
Um, OK... this is awkward, but... I guess... if he insists...
ahem - Governor Walker, how long have you been beating your wife?
I sure hope Walker isn’t thinking much of running for President again - Mitch Daniels learned the hard way that selling off highways to well-connected Cronies is not a very smart path to the White House.
“reduce/eliminate gas taxes
fully privatize interstates ( not a BS concession or lease )
is the way to go
let the free market do its magic - increase quality, lower costs”
Glad to hear you will pay my tolls, thanks!
... elling off highways to well-connected Cronies is not a very smart path to the White House ...”
Or, in Walker’s case, to being reelected governor ...
There is nationwide momentum on adding tolls, and such momentum is seldom accidental.
IMO it is part of the overall squeeze meant to limit private car ownership and untracked driving in the country.
Wow just remarkably stupid....
So glad this clown never made it to be President.
I think this is a bad idea.
Better idea: rebate estimate gas tax to Wisconsin users who pay tolls via easy pass stickers. Offer reciprocation to motorists from other states.
Tolls aren’t bad. But paying twice (through the gas tax and again through tolls) is a bummer.
“Increase quality and lower costs”
Hahahahahahahsa You are a fool. Look at the Pa Turnpike if you think you will get lower costs or higher quality by selling or leasing the operation of public infrastructure.
You’ve been warned
He was my number 1 candidate in 2016 for a minute (that he ran). He has done wonders to Wisconsin. I don’t mind tolls as Florida has them everywhere. But he said he is thinking about it....meaning it won’t go anywhere. Tolls are one of those things where you don’t HAVE to use them. It is a choice.
He knows it, which is why he never actually debates the topic or tries to give examples as to where they work. He’s either a Robert Poole clone (CATO Libertarian guy who thinks toll private roads will result in world peace and fulfillment), or a lobbyist. Hard to tell which.
Scott Walker says he’s open to tolling
Scott Walker is an idiot, and the quicker the Wis. people realize it and get rid of him, the better off they will be.
“Tolls are one of those things where you dont HAVE to use them. It is a choice.”
Technically you can hire a ferry to get you across rivers (in some locations), but there does come a point where the alternatives are not very practical. Try driving parallel to I-80 in Pennsylvania, for example - where the all the roads are diagonal, rather than east-west, as I-80 is.
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