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La Crosse County Board chair remains skeptical about Gov. Walker road promise

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County leaders from around Wisconsin who attended a conference in La Crosse this week will have some new highway questions to ponder back home.

Gov. Scott Walker surprised delegates at the counties association meeting by saying he wants to raise the state share of highway funding to 30 percent.

Tara Johnson, who chairs the La Crosse County Board, has her own questions about the Walker plan.

“Is it going to be at 30 percent moving forward?” Johnson asked. “Because we need sustainable funding solutions to be able to repair roads.”

Johnson also pondered whether it would happen at all or was just an empty campaign promise.

“We’re 40-some days from the election,” Johnson said. “And the legislature has to agree. It has to go through that whole process for it to actually happen, and whether or not that’s going to happen, I think is a big, huge unknown at this point.”

Johnson also pointed out the 30 percent funding might only pay for one mile of highway work in La Crosse County, or just 1 percent of the county’s road needs.

“Even if the state is at the 30 percent, we need to raise $5 million to get at the annual road needs that we have,” she said.

Johnson doesn’t know whether Walker’s promise will have much effect on the county’s funding referendums this fall. Voters are being asked to weigh in on funding options including a premier resort tax or a wheel tax.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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