Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he is open to raising the state’s gas tax, if offset by other tax cuts, to pay the state’s share of a federal proposal to spur $1.5 trillion in public and private infrastructure spending.
Responding to President Donald Trump’s call during his State of the Union address for more federal funding for roads, Walker said he hopes to work with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, to encourage Congress to pass “a sizable package,” but maintain the typical match of 80 percent federal and 20 percent state funds.
The White House has said only $200 billion of the $1.5 trillion package would come from the federal government paid for with cuts in other areas. The rest of the money would come from state, local and private sources.
“We’re willing to invest to obtain those dollars to grow and build our infrastructure here,” Walker said. “I’m willing to look at ways to add to our revenue in the transportation budget as long as we have a net neutral or really a net reduction for the overall burden to the taxpayers in this state. If we could cut taxes, income taxes or other taxes, we could look at revenues in the future, particularly if it helped us leverage federal dollars.”
Walker made the comments to reporters after a speech at the Wisconsin Economic Development Association Governor’s Conference in Madison, where he urged economic development officials to lobby legislators to adopt his proposal for a $50 million a year rural economic development fund.