The options for Wisconsin legislators on road funding in the state budget are few, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Sunday.
Borrowing $1.3 billion for road projects, as Gov. Scott Walker proposed in his budget, has been labeled "irresponsible" by a member of the governor's party and legislators have tried to reduce the level of bonding involved.
"It's probably going to be a mix of delayed projects and then also some level of bonding," Fitzgerald said in an interview on "UpFront with Mike Gousha." "What that is right now as we sit here today is difficult to say because we are in negotiations not only with the Assembly, but trying to keep the governor in the loop on that as we go back and forth.
"It's going to have an impact statewide. The governor once again said he's just not going to sign any revenue increases, and I think it would be difficult to get that through this very conservative Republican caucus that I am in charge of. So it probably leaves us with very few options other than delay a few projects and certainly a little bit of bonding."
Fitzgerald predicted that projects that are already underway this season, including the seven-year reconstruction of Milwaukee's Zoo Interchange, won't get interrupted immediately. In a few years, however, many areas of the state could have planned road projects disrupted, he said.
"That's something many members are very aware of and concerned about," Fitzgerald said. "There will be a ripple effect on projects outstate."
Last November, Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment that required state transportation revenue to be used only for transportation purposes.
Still, the state's transportation fund has trended toward a deficit as cars become more economical and the gas tax produces less revenue.
Fitzgerald sounded resigned to having to deal with transportation funding issues for quite a while.
"This is a major, major problem for us," he said. "This goes back 10, 12 years ago when this started where there was not enough revenue to certainly deal with the amount of projects that were ultimately being enumerated. This is something that we are going to struggle with for many years to come, to get back to a level playing field when it comes to transportation expenditures and transportation revenues. So we're not going to fix it overnight."