ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) - Governor Scott Walker calls infrastructure a key element in the success of Wisconsin's economy. That's why he's proposing a $6.4 billion investment in the state's transportation fund, including $824 million in new money for state highway projects and freight rail upgrades.
"We have nearly a half billion dollar surplus for the remainder of this fiscal year," Gov. Walker explained. "and then the next two years of the budget itself, we have strong revenue growth projections because of improvements in the economy. So that allows us to invest in our priorities."
A relief for taxpayers, Walker said there will be no increase in the state gas tax or vehicle registration fees.
"At a time when we're just starting to see decent recovery in our state's economy," he said. "the last thing we want to do is add an additional tax burden on people."
Walker said the money would make it possible to keep major highway expansion projects on schedule, and also keep up with the state's need to maintain roads.
"I think that's critical because in the past I think that's been overlooked," said Will Dorsey, DOT Northeast Regional Director. "Because it's not as glitzy as adding new lanes or highways or bridges or things like that, but it's absolutely critically important that we maintain the infrastructure that we have."
Walker's plan also includes $10.7 million to assist Wisconsin's ports.
"Our port operations really is critical to economic development and growth in the state of Wisconsin," added Walker.
"The assistance to make those intermodal connections, to make that infrastructure improvement just ensures the viability of our ports," Green Bay Port Director Dean Haen said.
Walker expressed the need to build the transportation fund back up. Since 2003, more than $1 billion has been raided from the fund and used in other areas.