State News

Criticism grows over Walker’s infrastructure comments

Gov. Scott Walker remains hesitant to fund roadway expansion while bipartisan criticism mounts. 

Image By: Kaitlyn Veto

A growing number of bipartisan criticism from former, current and prospective state officials is brewing in regard to the state’s infrastructure needs this week.

At a Milwaukee County War Memorial Center event, Gov. Scott Walker stated, “there are some groups out there that want to spend billions and billions and billions of dollars on more, bigger, wider interchanges across the state,” according to the Journal Sentinel.

Walker went on to say, "I actually think we should be fixing and maintaining our infrastructure. I don’t know that we need bigger and better and broader right now when we have a changing transportation system."

Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers highlighted the support from former individuals who worked with Walker. He tweeted “more and more Republicans who’ve worked directly with Walker are coming out of the woodwork to say, ‘Enough is enough.’”

One such employee is former Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, a Republican. He responded to the Governor’s comments in a statement.

“[Walker’s] statement implies that decisions to recommend highway expansion projects are being driven by outside groups, possibly with a vested interest, and not based on a proper evaluation of purpose and need. That is not true,” the statement read.

Current Department of Transportation Secretary Dave Ross spoke about the topic at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Friday.

“We don't want any system that would deprive any part of the country regardless of traffic count, population, everyone is entitled to a good transportation system," Ross told wfjw.com.

A central conflict of the state’s infrastructure funding revolves around the gas tax.

Currently at 32.9 cents per gallon, Walker has been hesitant to increase the tax in order to fund road projects. Evers, on the other hand, has suggested increasing the gas tax, but has not detailed how much he would plan on increasing it if elected governor.

Walker asserted that more people are driving electric and hybrid cars — resulting in an unsustainable gas tax — as a way to support his claim, according to the Journal Sentinel.

A conflicting report from Gottlieb contends Wisconsin road traffic has been increasing since the 2008 recession.

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