U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 7 mins

Wis. gov promises $6.4 billion for transportation

Todd Richmond, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's executive budget will include about $500 million more for transportation projects ranging from rebuilding a badly congested Milwaukee interchange to filling State Patrol vacancies, his office said Friday.

Walker's two-year spending plan will devote about $6.4 billion to transportation work, up from about $5.9 billion in the 2011-2013 budget, according to his office. The governor spent Friday traveling to news conferences in Pewaukee, Green Bay and Baraboo to announce the plan.

"We are investing in the long-term" Walker said in a statement. "An efficient, safe transportation system is necessary for growing our economy and creating jobs."

The governor plans to generate the additional money in part by pulling $129 million form the state's general fund. The state's $419 million surplus will enable Walker to make that move, said Jocelyn Webster, Walker's spokeswoman in Madison.

Another $32 million will come from the petroleum fund and $662 million will come from bonding.

Walker's statement said the budget will devote $550 million toward rebuilding the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee, the spot where interstates 94 and 894 intersect with U.S. Highway 45.

Other commitments include $236 million for work on Milwaukee's Hoan Bridge; $10.7 million for grants to improve commercial harbors; $60 million for preserving railroad tracks; $55 million more for road maintenance; an additional $800,000 in disaster aid; and $2.7 million to train State Patrol recruits.

Walker is scheduled to release his full budget on Wednesday. The Legislature's finance committee will revise the plan and send it on to the full state Senate and Assembly for approval. From there it will go back to Walker for his signature. The whole process is expected to take most of the spring.