Transportation Debate Bleeds into 2018

It’s almost like we didn’t debate these things last year and pass a budget.

Allowing open-road tolling on Wisconsin’s interstates is the only viable way to raise state money to match whatever federal funding could be coming for transportation, Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told county officials Wednesday.

President Donald Trump last month called on Congress to approve a $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure plan that likely would require states to put up some money to receive the federal funds. Trump’s plan would rely on state and local governments working with private investors to come up with much of the cash.

Republican legislative leaders have long been supportive of tolling in Wisconsin and they reiterated that again Wednesday. Gov. Scott Walker has also been open to tolling and last week said he would consider a gas tax increase to access the federal infrastructure money, if the increase were offset by cuts elsewhere. But Fitzgerald said Wednesday there was not enough support in the Senate to pass a gas tax increase or vehicle registration fee increases.

“The only way that we are going to be able to do this and the only way that makes sense is open road tolling,” Fitzgerald said.

Why does the scramble for “free” federal money always end up in higher taxes and fees for Wisconsinites?