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Assembly Speaker Vos questions Gov. Walker's transportation plan, wants to keep all options on the tableSubmitted: 01/11/2017

Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com


MADISON - Republican lawmakers stood dozens of times to cheer during Gov. Walker's State of the State speech Tuesday afternoon.

But many Republicans stayed in their chairs and some kept fairly quiet when Walker talked about how to close a $1 billion gap in transportation funding.

Walker doubled down on his promise not to raise the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.  Instead, he wants to delay some major road projects, borrow more money, and focus on maintenance and safety.


House Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told Newswatch 12 in a one-on-one interview that he respects Walker's pledge, but adds that the governor's ideas don't get to the heart of what needs to be done.

"Under Gov. Walker's plan, it's going to be 70 years before the interstates are rebuilt," Vos said. "Well, they've been around for 70 years. I don't think they're going to last another 70."

Vos says he too made a pledge not to raise taxes, but he said his pledge falls under not raising income or sales taxes. Vos says gas taxes and registration fees are user fees that, unlike general taxes, would go directly to road repairs.

Vos is open to looking at all possible options, including toll roads. But he wants to wait for an audit of the Department of Transportation to come in first, which is expected in the next month or so.

"When the only option is putting it on the credit card, not fixing it, or paying for what we use, I guess the conservative answer for me is to pay for what we use after finding every possible savings," Vos said.

During the State of the State speech, Walker lauded spending about $18 billion on transportation funding over his six years in office. The governor also pledged to provide millions of dollars in funding for counties and towns to make their own repairs.

Vos says all of that money divided between nearly 2,000 towns equals just 53 feet of road repairs for each community.

"Fifty-three feet isn't going very far," Vos said. "That's, unfortunately, going to come at the expense of state roads, so why would you not fix the state roads to fix 53 feet of roads in a town and call that a victory?"

The speaker told Newswatch 12 that he respects Walker, but he called this issue a "blind spot" for the governor. We should learn more about Walker's transportation plans during his budget address in February.

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