UPDATE: Transportation leaders praise funding increase

UPDATED Monday, June 3, 2013 --- 1:37 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Representatives from Wisconsin's public transit systems are urging state lawmakers to keep the recently approved mass transit funding increase in the next state budget.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed no increase for local mass transit in his two-year budget. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee would increase it by 4 percent, or $5.3 million annually.

At a Monday news conference at the Capitol,, Gary Goyke, legislative director for the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association, says Wisconsin's aging population suffered greatly from the 10 percent cut in mass transit funding in the last budget.

Goyke says restoring that funding will help seniors in rural areas get to their medical appointments. He says it will also attract more young professionals to Wisconsin cities.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 23, 2013 --- 6:14 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget-writing committee has unanimously approved dozens of recommendations aimed at closing a $54 million deficit in Wisconsin's roads fund.

The Joint Finance Committee voted 16-0 Thursday to delay freeway work in the Milwaukee area and scale back road aid to local governments. It also agreed to cut funding for reconstruction on part of Milwaukee's Zoo Interchange. Those efforts alone are expected to save more than $37 million.

The committee also voted to add 180 positions related to highway engineering. The $27 million in costs would come from budgeted highway-rehabilitation funds.

The proposals were prompted by a drop in gas-tax revenue, which the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says will lead to a budget deficit of about $54 million, revised downward from an earlier estimate of $64 million.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 23, 2013 --- 12:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget-writing committee is scheduled to renew discussions over a proposal aimed at closing a $63.5 million deficit in Wisconsin's roads fund.

The committee plans to meet Wednesday to discuss the plan produced by the state's transportation department. The proposal involves delaying freeway work in the Milwaukee area and scaling back road aid to local governments.

The discussions were prompted by a drop in gas-tax revenue, which the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says will lead to a budget deficit of nearly $64 million. The governor's office had previously estimated the deficit would be about $13 million.

The committee already adopted parts of the DOT's plan last month. Those decisions included reducing funding to ease congestion and deleting provisions to add 24 more State Patrol inspectors and safety investigators.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 --- 2:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin transportation officials have proposed delaying road work, reducing funding for rail service and cutting aid for local governments' road projects to balance a looming deficit in the state's transportation fund.

The fund consists mostly of gas tax revenue and vehicle registration fees. It covers highway improvements, aid for local road projects. It also funds the State Patrol and the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Projections released last week show the fund will end mid-2015 with a $63.5 million deficit driven by slipping gas tax revenue.

The DOT's plan calls for delaying work on Milwaukee's Zoo Interchange, scaling back funding for the Hiawatha rail route between Milwaukee and Chicago by $1.1 million and reducing aid for local governments' project and maintenance by nearly $7 million.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press