A Wisconsin legislative panel has recommended that the state boost
transportation spending by 40 percent a year to cover longtime funding
shortages. No solutions to come up with the needed revenue were offered.
The Committee on Transportation Needs and Financing unanimously
endorsed a draft report that said the state needs another $698.2 million
annually for roads and mass transit programs.
“Cost inflation resulting from increased world-wide demand for energy
and construction materials (are) seriously eroding the purchasing power of our
highway construction budget,” committee co-chairman Rep. Mark Gottlieb said in
a written statement. “In the last three years alone, highway construction costs
have increased by 31 percent.”
Gottlieb, R-Port Washington, said potential solutions likely will be
discussed this fall. Road funding needs also are expected to draw considerable
attention during state budget talks in the next legislative session.
Increasing the funding as proposed by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and
endorsed by the committee would bring the annual transportation budget to $2.41
billion – up from $1.71 billion, The
Associated Press reported. Nearly 80 percent of the added revenue
would be earmarked for highway construction.
While the panel prepares for discussions on how to generate revenue
they will explore ways to reduce the cost of road work, including privatizing
state highway maintenance and repair and allowing businesses to operate out of
six of Wisconsin’s 32 rest areas, The AP reported.
The remaining 26 rest areas are not eligible for commercial activity
due to federal restrictions for sites located on the interstate or a highway
designated to be an interstate.