TDA Drive-in Returns

TDA held its Drive-in in late May at the State Capitol in Madison. This event was TDA’s first return to the Capitol since 2019. 

We heard from Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, representing the Democratic Administration, as well as from Republican legislative leaders Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu.

The three speakers gave brief remarks and then took questions from the audience. They seemed to share an understanding of the impact of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the push toward electric vehicles on the state’s largest source of transportation revenue—the gas tax— and recognize the need for a longer-term, sustainable way to fund transportation. However, the legislative leaders were cautious about using the state’s general fund surplus and general fund revenues to provide ongoing transportation fund support.

Approximately 75 TDA members, including representatives of business, industry, local government, transportation advocates, and trade unions, attended a morning seminar. Then groups visited the Capitol sharing our priorities with legislators and staff. 

Thanks to all who participated. And check out the TDA On The Go Podcast, Drive-in edition, to hear from a few attendees on why they took part and their top transportation challenges. 

Thanks to our Sponsors

JFC to Consider Transportation Next Week

The Joint Committee on Finance is scheduled to meet Thursday, June 8, to take action on the 2023-25 budget for several departments, including the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a series of transportation-related budget papers late this week.

TDA staff will review the papers and issue a budget update on the JFC transportation action next Friday.

Federal News

Debt Deal Affects Some Transportation Funding

This week, the House and Senate passed a 99-page debt ceiling deal, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. The expected enactment will impact some transportation funding.  

The measure includes the clawback of some unobligated COVID-19 pandemic funds, with the effect unknown as states and localities quickly obligated as much as possible ahead of the debt deal’s passage.

The legislation is not expected to impact the core highway, bridge, and public transportation investments in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the deal protects general fund advance appropriations from future congressional rescissions by not counting any possible cuts toward new spending or “pay-fors.”

The bill imposes two-year discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Contract authority (CA) programs like the Federal-aid Highway Program are exempt from this cap. However, this could affect future supplemental general fund dollars for CA programs. 

Other provisions of note:

  • The bill also incorporates project-permitting reform measures taken from the BUILDER Act, including further codification of the One Federal Decision framework.
  • A new “PAYGO” funding mechanism requires a federal department or agency considering a “discretionary administrative action” that would increase mandatory federal spending by more than $100 million in a year or more than $1 billion over a decade to decrease federal spending by the same amount.
  • One percent cut to the continuing resolution if the 12 full-year appropriations measures for FY 2024 and FY 2025 are not in place by January 1 of the respective year. 

Transportation News

Milwaukee BRT Set to Launch in June

The new $55 million, nine-mile East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in Milwaukee County has an announced start date of June 4. This BRT route is the first in the state.

The route, called CONNECT 1, stretches from Milwaukee's downtown to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa. Thirty-three new BRT-dedicated stations are located on the line, with a mix of electric and diesel buses to be used.

Milwaukee County Transit System expects CONNECT 1 to move more than 9,500-weekday riders by 2035, with overall transit ridership in the East-West corridor expected to rise by 17%.

"The BRT means faster commutes and a more connected county," explained Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

Passengers can ride for free through Sept. 30 thanks to a sponsorship deal with the company providing the new WisGo fare system.

WisDOT Releases Rail Plan 2050

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has released the draft of Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050, establishing a long-term vision for freight and passenger rail travel. Rail moves about 32% of freight in Wisconsin, with demand for passenger service growing.


The draft Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 is available to review online. WisDOT is accepting comments through June 10 via the online comment form.

Neighbors in the News

MN Gov. Signs Transportation Bill, $1 Billion-Plus in New Revenue in Next Biennium

The Democrat-led Minnesota Legislature passed, and Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed HF 2887, a transportation omnibus funding bill.

The bill includes more than $1 billion in new funding for the fiscal year 2024-25 biennium. The increased funding comes from several sources, including:

  • Increase in the rate for Minnesota’s value-based vehicle registration fee (1.54% [was 1.25%] of the manufacturer's suggested retail price for vehicles registered before Nov. 16, 2020, and 1.575% [was 1.285%] or those on or after that date) and a slowing of the depreciation schedule—$242 million over the biennium.
  • Create a 50-cent delivery fee for orders over $100, with exceptions, effective July 1, 2024—$59 million in FY 2025.
  • Index the state’s gasoline and special fuel excise taxes to the Minnesota Highway Construction Cost Index every Jan. 1 and beginning in 2024, using a calculation made the previous Aug. 1. Each tax rate must not be lower than the corresponding rate in current law. Starting with the computation on Aug. 1, 2025, the percentage change in each tax rate must not exceed 3%—$ 155 million over the biennium.
  • Up the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax (MVST) .375% (from 6.5% to 6.875%) for purchases made after July 1, 2023 —$109 million over the biennium.
  • Require the Metropolitan Council to impose a three-quarter of a cent regional transportation sales and use tax effective for sales after Oct. 1, 2023, in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties. The lion's share of the dollars will go to transit system operations, maintenance, and capital projects—$ 924 million over the biennium.

The package will provide about $1 billion in new revenue annually once all the increased fees are fully implemented, and most of this revenue will grow with the economy as prices rise.

Beyond the ongoing, dedicated revenue, the bill includes approximately $1 billion in general fund revenues for the next biennium and $599 million in Trunk Highway Bonds for the next three years. Minnesota had a historic $17.5 billion surplus going into the 2023 session.

See more information about the bill on the Minnesota Transportation Alliance website.

Note: Gov. Waltz also signed the Omnibus Commerce Appropriations Bill, which repealed the state’s minimum markup on gas. Previously under Minnesota law, gas stations could be required to sell gas for up to 8 cents per gallon more than they paid.

Indiana Budget Extends Gas Tax Indexing for Three Years, Establishes Task Force

Indiana’s indexing of fuel, which began July 1, 2018, was set to expire in July 2024. In the fiscal year (FY) 2024-25 biennial budget, the legislature and the governor moved the indexing expiration date to 2027.

Indiana indexes its gasoline, diesel, and alternative fuels to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), effective July 1 of every year, with the increase not to exceed one penny annually. 


The legislature expects this move to give policymakers time to determine how to fund Indiana’s roads and bridges long-term. The latest budget includes Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow Task Force. The legislation directs the group to develop plans to address state and local road and bridge needs, including sustainable funding for various plan components.

A report is due to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2024, for consideration during FY 26-27 state budget deliberations.

This task force is the first since 2016. That effort (of the same name) resulted in legislation raising the gas tax by 10 cents, indexing the tax to inflation, and directing revenue from a separate gas sales tax to a dedicated road improvement account rather than the state’s general fund.

“We know for sure that things are going to change in the transportation world in all kinds of ways, and it’s unwise to wait until they occur,” said Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, who chairs the House’s powerful budget-writing committee and will serve on the task force.

“It doesn’t have to be solved today, but it’s unwise to wait until it’s right in front of you,” he added.

Republicans control the governor's office and both chambers of the state legislature.

TDA Outreach

New TDA Podcasts: TDA Drive-in Attendees, the Farm Bureau and ARIP

In the most recent On The Go podcast, the focus is on TDA’s recent Drive-in event. Listen to learn why advocacy matters and what are some of the transportation priorities for fellow TDA members and Drive-in participants.

Don't miss the podcast with Jason Mugnaini, executive director of governmental relations at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, recorded in April. He speaks with Jackson about agriculture, transportation, and a new legislative proposal currently making its way through the legislature to create an agricultural road improvement program (ARIP) at WisDOT.

Listen to both podcasts here.

Association News

Thanks 2023 Organizational Sponsors

TDA Welcomes New Member

Founded in 1966, Advanced Drainage Systems is a leading manufacturer of innovative stormwater and onsite septic wastewater solutions that manages the world’s most precious resource: water.

ADS has a network of approximately 70 manufacturing plants and 37 distribution centers and provides superior drainage solutions for use in a wide variety of markets and applications, including commercial, residential, infrastructure, and agriculture.

TDA 2023 Event Dates

  • TDA Annual Meeting: Wednesday, Nov. 15

Industry News

New Episode of Building Wisconsin Highlights Transportation Infrastructure

A recent episode of Building Wisconsin focuses on road building and transportation infrastructure. Host Stuart Keith gets an update from Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson on current construction projects around the state. Thompson also explains how WisDOT utilizes federal dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts on state and local road-building projects.

Also featured on this episode:

  • President/Business Manager Terry McGowan, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139
  • President & CEO Mark O’Connell, Wisconsin Counties Association

Wisconsin Bike Week Ready to Roll

Wisconsin Bike Week 2023 kicks off Saturday, June 3 and continues through June 10.

Organized by Wisconsin Bike Federation, this year's theme is Chain Reactions: a week of action for a lifetime of inspiration.

There are events throughout the state during the week, from commuter stations and group rides to advocacy actions and parties.

Find out more about Bike Week 2023 and the upcoming events.

MAASTO Annual Meeting Registration Open

MAASTO Annual Meeting

Aug. 14-16, 2023

The Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee

MAASTO's Annual Meeting is coming to Milwaukee this summer and is an excellent opportunity to network and connect with some of the best and brightest in transportation. Attendees will leave better informed and better prepared to change the future for the people they serve. 

Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) works to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated and balanced transportation system that adequately serves the transportation needs of the ten member states.

Event details and registration information can be found here.

Sponsorship information can be found here.

If you would like TDA to consider including your organization's update or event in an upcoming newsletter, please forward information to Luke Pearson [email protected].

Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin

10 East Doty Street, Suite 201 | Madison, WI 53703

(608) 256-7044  |  [email protected]

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