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Walker open to shifting more money to solve road woes

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker on Monday latched onto the possibility of funneling money from the state's main account toward highways to try to help solve Wisconsin's road funding woes.Walker has vowed to veto any gas tax increase and on Monday do...

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker on Monday latched onto the possibility of funneling money from the state’s main account toward highways to try to help solve Wisconsin’s road funding woes.
Walker has vowed to veto any gas tax increase and on Monday downplayed the possibility of raising vehicle registration fees.
Instead, he told reporters he was working with his fellow Republicans in the Legislature to shift money from the state’s general fund to its transportation fund.
The general fund is made up of collections from income taxes, sales taxes and a host of other taxes and fees and is used to fund schools, the University of Wisconsin System, health care for the poor and elderly and numerous other programs. The transportation fund consists of gas tax and registration fee collections.
“I’ve said repeatedly in my meetings with the (Assembly) speaker and the Senate majority leader that I think we can free up some more money, looking at general purpose revenue in the state budget and some other areas we think we can save on,” Walker told reporters.
Some have opposed putting more general fund money into the transportation fund because it can be hard to sustain in an economic downturn. They argue highways should have a dedicated funding source backed with user-based taxes and fees.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, have both said they’re open to using general funds for transportation, though Vos has focused his attention on using transportation money for roads.
Vos has said he wants to put $300 million more toward roads over the next two years. Walker wouldn’t say Monday how much more he wants to find.
Walker's comments create the possibility of reaching an agreement that has eluded Republicans for months, as Walker has railed against raising the gas tax and some lawmakers have shown an openness to the idea.
Walker, in an interview with WKOW-TV in Madison last week, did not rule out raising registration fees to help pay for roads. But on Monday, he made clear that possibility was unlikely.
“I don’t have any interest in raising vehicle registration fees,” he said. “I don’t know anyone in the Legislature who is talking about vehicle registration fees.”

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