Wisconsin highway fund deal headed to governor

| 10/28/2003

The amount of money the state can borrow for highway projects would be limited under legislation the Wisconsin Senate approved last week.

Senators voted 27-5 in favor of the bill, sending it to the governor. The measure previously passed the Assembly 82-11.

The legislation resulted from a deal Gov. Jim Doyle reached Oct. 21 with Republican lawmakers to avoid delaying some road work in the next two months, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The bill also would change how the money is repaid.

In the budget he signed this summer, Doyle used his veto authority to ensure the bonds would be repaid with transportation funds, which are made up of revenue from the state’s fuel tax and license fees.

The deal allows the first two years of interest on the bonds to be paid with transportation funds. After that, they will be paid off with general fund revenue.

The governor also used his veto authority to increase the amount of money the state could borrow for road projects to $1 billion for the two-year period that began July 1, from $100 million, the newspaper reported. Doyle indicated in July that he planned to use $565 million of the available bonding authority over the next two years for highway projects.

Assembly Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, had threatened to sue, claiming the veto was unconstitutional because it increased borrowing authority without the Legislature's permission. He claimed the governor could only reduce borrowing authority.