The state’s transportation fund took in almost 5 percent less in 2019-20 than was expected, driven largely by people driving less amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the transportation fund took in nearly $1.9 billion over the fiscal year, about $97.3 million less than what the state expected when Gov. Tony Evers signed the budget in July 2019.

For the year, motor fuel taxes came in $69.1 million less than had been expected, a drop of 6.4 percent. The state also took in $45.8 million less than it had projected for registration and title fees, a decline of 6.9 percent.

Those shortfalls were partially offset by boosts elsewhere. For example, the transfer from the petroleum inspection fund, funded with a fee of 2 cents per gallon of fuel sold, was $16 million higher than expected.

The transportation fund also received $8.5 million more in miscellaneous department revenue and earned an additional $3.4 million on investments than had been projected.

Gov. Tony Evers was still able to fund the vast majority of transportation projects his administration had targeted with money left over from one of his budget vetoes even after the state Supreme Court ruled he overstepped his authority in nixing the original intent for the funds.

Of the local projects the administration had planned to fund in March, the administration determined 92 percent were still eligible for the money following the Supreme Court’s action.

Agency spokeswoman Kristin McHugh told the agency was working with sponsors to cover the other dozen projects worth more than $4 million. Those projects include $1 million for the city of Oconto for harbor improvements and $1 million for the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Republicans originally approved $90 million in one-time general purpose revenue for local road projects in the budget they sent to the guv. But Evers’ partial veto knocked it down to $75 million and he lifted restrictions on the money so it could be used for transit and transportation projects.

In March, Evers announced grants for local transit projects using the one-time money. But in July, the state Supreme Court overturned Evers’ partial veto.

See the LFB memo here.

See the list of transit projects awaiting funding here.

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