TDA Budget Update #3
Last night, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted along party lines to approve a 2021-23 transportation budget. Below is a preliminary analysis of the JFC motion.


The JFC plan increases general purpose revenue (GPR) support for transportation. This action followed an announcement earlier in the day from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) that general fund tax collections for fiscal years 2021 through 2023 are expected to be $4.4 billion above previous estimates.

The $205.7 million infusion of GPR includes:
  • a one-time transfer of $147.1 million in the first year of the budget;
  • $51.2 million from increasing the ongoing GPR transfer from .25% of general fund tax collections to .5% starting in the second year of the budget; and
  • a $7.45 million increase in the current law general fund transfer due to the LFB revenue re-estimate.

Bonding levels continue to be historically low.
Program Details

State Highway Program
  • Increases the State Highway Rehabilitation Program $130.3 million compared to the 2019-21 biennium or $72.6 million (3.6%) over base funding.
  • Maintains funding for the Major Highway Development Program.
  • Enumerates the I-94 East-West project and provides funding to keep the project moving forward. Southeast Wisconsin Freeway Megaproject funding is down as the state wraps up the Zoo Interchange and prepares for the I-94 East-West project.
  • Authorizes $20 million in bonding to fund projects built using design-build.
  • Incorporates alternative highway project delivery methods and program as passed by the legislature in the 2019-21 budget, prior to gubernatorial vetoes.
  • Requires WisDOT to allocate $1.75 million in highway rehabilitation dollars for geometric improvements to the interchange of I-94 and Moreland Road in Waukesha County in the 2021-23 biennium. 
Local Aids
  • Increases General Transportation Aids 2% each calendar year and moves the cost cap to 98% for towns in the bottom quartile of equalized value. In addition, the motion sets aside $1 million a year to make GTA adjustment payments to towns receiving mileage aid and whose costs are affected by the timing of reimbursement payment reporting.
  • Reduces Mass Transit Operating Aids by $41.3 million (Tier A-1, Milwaukee: $32.7 million; Tier A-2, Madison: $8.6 million) over the biennium for a one-time 50% funding reduction in calendar year 2022.
  • Provides an additional $250,000 annually to the transportation employment and mobility appropriation for the Wisconsin Employment Transportation Assistance Program.
  • Ups Paratransit Aids by 2.5% each year and funding for the specialized transportation assistance program for seniors and individuals with disabilities by 2.5% annually.
  • Provides $100 million ($35.56 million for counties, $25.39 million for municipalities, and $39.06 million for towns) on a one-time basis to the Local Roads Improvement Program to fund local government project costs that would be eligible under the LRIP discretionary component. While the program will be funded with transportation funds (SEG), other provisions, like matching requirements, remain the same as the 2019-20 supplemental program.
Ports and Rail
  • $15.3 million in bonding for the Harbor Assistance Program.
  • $20 million in bonding for the Freight Rail Preservation Program.
  • Requires WisDOT to include in the 2023-25 biennium a request for Southern Bridge (Brown County) funding and to construct an interchange with I-41 and local roads, near the intersection of Southbridge Road and Creamery Road, as part of the I-41 project previously enumerated.
  • Increases state highway system management and operations by $8.7 million to fund the increased cost of salt.
  • Provides $1.0 million to install fencing improvements on the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee County.

The legislature is expected to wrap up its work on the budget by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, or a little after. The budget then heads to the governor. Spending will continue at 2019-21 base budget levels until the governor signs a 2021-23 budget.