Legislature’s Budget Committee Passed Sweeping Transportation Funding Package

Yesterday evening the Legislature’s GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee (JFC) took a huge step toward completing their work on reshaping Gov. Tony Evers’ 2019-21 state budget proposal. The Committee approved (on a 11-5 vote) a sweeping transportation package that would pump an additional $484 million into state transportation projects, to be be funded through a combination of transportation title and registration fee increases and monies from the state’s general fund.

File:Highway 29 to 41 Flyovers.jpg

Committee (JFC) took a huge step toward completing their work on reshaping Gov. Tony Evers’ 2019-21 state budget proposal. The Committee approved (on a 11-5 vote) a sweeping transportation package that would pump an additional $484 million into state transportation projects, to be be funded through a combination of transportation title and registration fee increases and monies from the state’s general fund.

The committee rejected Evers’ proposal to increase the gas tax to help fund transportation projects. The motion does however include $156 million in new funding over the two-year biennium for local transportation aide to municipalities and counties. Please find below the highlights of the JFC transportation package, which must still be approved by the full Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Evers:

  • Increase vehicle title fees by $95 (from $69.50 to $164.50). The fee increase would generate an additional $272,913,600 in new revenue over the biennium.
  • Increase vehicle registration fees by $10 (from $75 to $85). The fee increase would generate an additional $65,317,600 in new revenue over the biennium.
  • Set the registration fee for light trucks – across all weight classes – at $100. The fee increase would generate an additional $18,493,500 in new revenue over the biennium.
  • Increase local transportation aid for counties by $13,886,800 over the biennium – a 10% increase. The motion would provide counties an annual total of $122,203,200 in transportation aid in 2020 and thereafter.
  • Increase local transportation aid for municipalities by $52,295,900 over the biennium – a 10% increase. The motion would provide municipalities an annual total of $383,503,200 in transportation aid in 2020 and thereafter. The motion would also increase the mileage aide rate fir municipalities by $239 per mile (from $2,389 to $2,628) beginning in 2020.
  • Provide one-time funding of $90 million (from the state’s general fund) for local transportation projects. The motion would allocate $32,003,200 for counties; $22,847,400 for municipalities; and $35,149,400 for towns. Local units of government would be required to: 1.) Apply for funding through the Department of Transportation (DOT); and 2.) Provide a 10% project cost match.
  • Increase funding for the State Highway Rehabilitation program.
  • Increase finding for large highway projects in southeastern Wisconsin
  • Provide a 2% increase in mass transit operating assistance.
  • Provide $30 million in bonding for the freight rail preservation program.
  • Provide $1.5 million – from the freight rail infrastructure improvement program revolving loan fund balance – for intermodal facilities grants.
  • Authorize $326 million in new transportation bonding over the biennium – the lowest amount in decades.
  • Provide $2.5 million to DOT to hire a consultant to conduct a study of the viability of a mileage-based fee and outline a plan to implement such a fee. The provision also requires the DOT to submit a recommendation on implementation of a mileage-based fee plan by January 1, 2023.

In addition to the transportation package, the Joint Finance Committee approved a motion to significantly increase funding for the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant program. Under the motion, $44 million in federal e-rate funds will be transferred to the Broadband expansion grant program, which would distribute $22 million in grants per year over the biennium. Gov. Evers recommended an investment of $75 million for broadband expansion in his budget plan.

The Committee could finish their work on the budget bill next week and send it to the full Legislature for a vote. The Legislature is expected to send the bill to Gov. Evers by the end of the month for his review. The Governor will certainly use his powerful line-item veto authority and could potentially veto the entire budget.

By | 2019-06-07T17:59:17+00:00 June 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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