Copy-The Latest: Lawmaker says state is 'disinvesting' in roads
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Assembly committee hearing on Wisconsin roads (all times local):
The Republican chairman of the Legislature's budget committee says the proposed Wisconsin Department of Transportation budget for the next two years is essentially a divestment in roads.
Rep. John Nygren's comments came Tuesday during testimony from DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb at an Assembly committee hearing. Nygren is joining with other lawmakers in questioning whether the budget put forward relying on half a billion dollars in borrowing and delaying projects is the most responsible plan.
Gottlieb says the budget that doesn't raise gas taxes or fees was put together under the guidelines from Gov. Scott Walker. Gottlieb says that based on planned spending levels the condition of roads across the state will continue to deteriorate over the next decade.
The head of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is defending his budget request that relies on additional borrowing and delays in major highway work over the next two years.
DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified Tuesday before the Assembly Transportation Committee. The panel is meeting to gather information as Assembly Republicans work on a plan to address a transportation budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion.
Gottlieb says the $500 million in borrowing proposed in the department's budget would be the lowest level in 15 years and is a 41 percent reduction from what was borrowed the last two years.
But some Republicans say it's irresponsible to continue borrowing to pay for roads and are pushing for consideration of gas tax and fee increases.
Road builders, local governments, business leaders, agricultural interests and environmentalists are all getting a chance to weigh in on how to pay for improving Wisconsin's roads.
The state Assembly's Transportation Committee scheduled an informational hearing for Tuesday on the topic. The state Department of Transportation faces a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall, which it is proposing solving through increased borrowing and delaying work on major projects.
Republican lawmakers are split on whether raising taxes and fees should also be considered as part of the mix. They publicly sparred on Monday over that approach, with Gov. Scott Walker reiterating he won't sign a tax increase without a corresponding decrease.
The hearing comes as Assembly Republicans are working on an alternate plan.
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