Wisconsin governor seeks budget fix; transportation funds sought elsewhere

| 3/17/2008

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has unveiled his strategy to repair a budget imbalance in the state without raising taxes. It includes diverting road funds to other uses.

The state’s Assembly has other ideas to fix the budget.

Doyle said the state faces a looming $527-million, two-year budget shortfall. He said fixes are needed to the budget because of the combination of declining revenues in the state and a slowing national economy.

“All across the country, states are grappling with budget shortfalls, and here in Wisconsin we are not immune,” he said in a written statement.

One of the options touted by the Democratic governor to help balance the budget is rerouting $243 million from the state Transportation Fund. At the same time, Doyle said he wants to authorize $190 million in new borrowing to make up for the transfer and keep roadwork on track. Another $76.9 million would be repaid with federal funds while $67 million would come from already authorized transportation revenue bonds.

Other cuts totaling $330 million would be made in state administrative funds. Layoffs and dramatic reductions in state services would not be necessary, Doyle said.

The likelihood that Doyle’s budget fix will gain passage in the statehouse is considered slim. The Republican-led Assembly has already approved a plan that calls for more than $300 million in cuts to state programs. It also would tap into the state’s rainy-day fund.

Senate Democrats are expected to present their own budget repair bill.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor