Wisconsin at Risk of Losing $217M in Federal Transportation Money

Wisconsin could be at risk of losing $217 million in budget authority for transportation next year under a provision passed in a 2015 federal highway funding bill.

According to data released by the Federal Highway Administration in early November, Wisconsin is faced with the loss of $217 million in contract authority under a rescission that’s scheduled to take effect on July 1. Section 1438 of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act included a mandated rescission of $7.6 billion for all states.

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency is still trying to determine the effect the rescission will have on next year’s transportation budget. The provision will affect contract authority, not actual “spendable funding,” the spokeswoman noted.

“The department is working with (the Federal Highway Administration) to determine the impacts, which we believe will be less than reported,” according to WisDOT. “We also have been in working with our congressional delegation in an effort to repeal this legislation.”

Debby Jackson, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association, said the state’s risk of losing contract authority comes after a years-long fight over transportation spending in Wisconsin and could cause significant troubles if it takes effect.

“A lot of people worked hard during the last state budget to get more money into the transportation fund to slow the decline of our transportation infrastructure,” she said. “If this rescission of federal contract authority were to happen, it would be a step in the wrong direction.”