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Millions in Road Repairs May Stall Due to Falling DOT Revenues

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Road Construction Image
Road Construction Image

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - About $300 million in Wisconsin road repairs might have to wait because of falling revenues in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees.

The DOT’s budget request eliminates numerous projects over the next two years. Most are in the DOT’s rehabilitation program, which includes everything from simple resurfacing to major rebuilding.

Department secretary Frank Busalacchi did not say which projects could be delayed. He says additional federal aid could pay for them – but Congress must still approve it, and we’re not sure how much would be involved.

People are still apparently driving less due to the weak economy. Gas tax revenues plunged from over $1 billion in 2007 to $972 million in the last fiscal year.

People are also registering fewer cars at $75 a crack. Officials first expected $657 million in license plate fees for the current fiscal year – but at the current rate, they now expect only $591 million.

Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker, who promised he would never raise taxes, says he’s open to a higher vehicle fee – plus making folks pay tolls to drive on newly-built express lanes of major freeways. Walker also wants to put part of the sales tax from vehicle purchases into the transportation fund. But that would reduce general fund revenues, and add to the state’s budget deficit.

So Walker says the change might have to be phased in over a few years. He says both the general fund and the transportation fund have problems – and there are no easy answers to solve them.

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