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Lawmakers expected to vote on transportation budget Tuesday

 

With the budget now two months late, lawmakers are preparing to address the $1 billion shortfall to the transportation budget.

The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and vote on a transportation budget.

"I don't expect any major delays on projects here in our area," said State Sen. Roger Roth. R- Appleton.

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, Roth explained what the proposed transportation budget could look like.

He says over the next two years, the state would borrow a total of about $400 million to pay for roads. $250 million would go directly to the Foxconn deal, leaving the state with about $150 million for other road projects.

"Foxconn is really necessitating that we fix the north south on highway 94," said Roth.

Throughout the budget process, the Senate had called for borrowing more money, while the Assembly wanted to borrow less and add a new vehicle tax to find a long term transportation solution.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke says even with a low amount of borrowing, it won't address a long term solution.

"That's disappointing for us in the Assembly as we've been working for a long term solution for the last couple of years now. That being said, we're doing what we can to make sure we're being responsible in this budget," said Steineke, R-Kaukauna. 

Under the plan up for vote, lawmakers could also add a vehicle fee for electric vehicles. Steineke says the fee would even the playing field for all drivers.

"I think what people have to realize is that gas tax we rely on, that's about 54% of our overall revenue for transportation. So as people are using less and less gas, we have less and less money for transportation projects," he said.

The state is also receiving twice as much money from the federal government, both Steineke and Roth say that money will help.

"We have never in the joint finance process have been counting on additional monies from the Federal Government as a means of fixing transportation," said Sen. Roth. "So we traditionally get about $30 million, it's about $66 million, so we're getting more money than we weren't even counting on so that absolutely helps us."

Democrats have criticized any amount of borrowing, saying it's just kicking the problem down the road.