DOT secretary: Tolls, raising taxes off the table

State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb tells “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that tolls are off the table in the near term when it comes to funding state road projects.

“Federal law would prohibit us from tolling our state highway system,” Gottlieb told the show, produced with . “Until Congress looks at that … it is unavailable to us.”

Raising taxes is also not a viable option.

“I think the governor’s opinion right now is this is not the time to be raising taxes on Wisconsin citizens,” he said. “The Legislature seems to agree with that.”

Why is the state struggling to find funds to address transportation projects?

“Transportation has traditionally been a user-fee funded activity, especially at the state level,” Gottlieb explained. “To us that user fee is primarily the gas tax. If you go out and get rid of your 20-mile-per-gallon vehicle and go buy a 25-mile-per-gallon vehicle, you are paying 25 percent less in gas taxes and 25 percent less per mile to operate our highway system.”

In the face of these financial problems, lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker are proposing borrowing.

“I think the governor has put together a responsible plan for moving forward with transportation,” Gottlieb said.

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