By Matthew DeFour
A new road project serving the $10 billion Foxconn plant in Racine County could reduce funding for other state roads by as much as $90 million in the current budget, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The reduction leaves state highway rehabilitation funding as much as $870 million short of the $2.4 billion per biennium the Department of Transportation estimates is needed to maintain road conditions at current levels for the next decade.
According to the DOT, 79 percent of state highways were in fair or better condition as of December 2016. Gov. Scott Walker proposed funding state highways at $1.7 billion in the current budget, which, if maintained at that level for a decade, would have resulted in 61.7 percent of roads being in fair or better condition by July 2028.
However, the Legislature reduced Walker's proposed funding level to $1.62 billion and the Foxconn road project could reduce it even further to $1.53 billion.
The nonpartisan fiscal bureau reported in December the Foxconn road project could siphon $134 million from other road projects. Earlier this month the DOT responded to questions from Democratic lawmakers about the reduction, saying it had achieved project savings of $127.7 million in 2017.
A new fiscal bureau memo obtained by Democratic lawmakers and provided to the Wisconsin State Journal says the department is counting $105 million the Legislature authorized for other road projects.
The memo says there has been only about $32 million in highway savings identified so far, much of which isn't included in the DOT's figure. Given what Foxconn project costs are expected in the current biennium, the state program that pays for highway maintenance could be down anywhere from $70 million to $90 million.
The Taiwanese manufacturer is getting up to $3 billion in state tax credits and $764 million in local property tax incentives, plus a $408 million expansion of Interstate 94, to construct a $10 billion liquid-crystal display plant expected to employ as many as 13,000 people.
(c)2018 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)