In the wake of his administration’s proposal to raise taxes on Wisconsin drivers by nearly $800 million, Scott Walker yesterday approved three road-building projects with a price tag of $670 million.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the state’s Transportation Projects Commission, a 15-member panel of lawmakers and citizens chaired by the governor, authorized the projects, which include a highway repair in southeast Wisconsin and a new project in the northern Milwaukee suburbs.
A significant majority of the approved costs — $448 million — would go to add a lane in each direction on a stretch of highway that connects Ozaukee County to Milwaukee County — a route frequented by wealthy suburban commuters to the city.
The added spending comes on top of Walker’s $750 million tax increase and a proposed $805 million in new transportation borrowing; it’s also not without scrutiny. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WisPIRG) notes that traffic counts on the stretch of highway to be improved decreased by more than 12% between 2002-2010, yet the Walker administration is projecting a huge increase in traffic — 43% — from 2010-2040 as justification for the massive spending increase.
“With a staggering budget deficit of his own creation — $2.2 billion and counting — Scott Walker has proposed nearly a billion dollars in borrowing, a $750 million tax hike on Wisconsin drivers, and now a half a billion dollars to make the drive to Milwaukee easier on his wealthy donors,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. “How can Walker with a straight face ask the rest of the state to pay for this pet project? Scott Walker’s tax-and-spend fiscal irresponsibility is only getting worse — and it’s going to make our state’s budget deficit worse, too.”