Wisconsin Receives $66 million from Feds to Help Ease its Transportation Budget

Wisconsin is getting $66 million in additional federal funding for roads, lending a small bit of good news for Republican lawmakers as they try to write the state’s transportation budget next week.

The state is receiving nearly twice what it normally gets in what is known as redistribution aid, but far less than the $341 million in aid that it sought.

The $66 million in additional aid could help the Legislature’s budget committee as it seeks to reach a compromise between Senate Republicans and Assembly Republicans. The GOP controls both houses, but have differed on how to fund roads and help close a $1 billion gap between the state’s road building plans and the amount of money it is expected to have available for transportation over the next two years.

The Joint Finance Committee could take up transportation funding as soon as Tuesday.

Differences among Republicans remain significant. Asked Thursday if the additional money made it easier to reach a transportation deal, state Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said, “Not really.” “In the grand scheme of things, $66 million is not going to do it,” said Nygren, the co-chairman of the budget committee.

Wisconsin has received $34 million annually on average through that program in the past five years, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office. The most the state has ever gotten since 2012 is $40 million.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration this year sought to dramatically increase how much it gets through the program and asked for $341 million.

While it fell well short of that amount, the $66.4 million it received was the largest amount the state has ever received, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

 “We could not be more pleased with this historic amount of funding that is being received,” Transportation Secretary Dave Ross said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear which projects the money would go toward.