State Transportation Secretary defends road bonding in governor’s budget

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MADISON (AP) — State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb is defending Gov. Scott Walker’s budget plan to borrow $1.3 billion for road construction.

Walker’s fellow Republicans have bristled at the borrowing. Gottleib, a Walker appointee, told the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday that interest rates are favorable and if bonding is reduced without raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees current and future projects will be delayed.

He warned that the state’s highway system will still deteriorate even with the borrowing. Reducing the amount would accelerate that deterioration and lead to larger repair costs in the future.

The committee’s co-chairman, Rep. John Nygren, asked Gottlieb what road building would look like if legislators chopped the borrowing by $500. Gottlieb said major projects around the state not completed by 2017 would be substantially delayed.