State transportation secretary divides Senate panel

State transportation secretary divides Senate panel

A state Senate committee is divided about whether to support Gov. Scott Walker’s pick to head the state Department of Transportation.

The Republican-controlled Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 3-2 along party lines Thursday to approve the confirmation of Dave Ross. The full Senate will vote on confirming Ross in the weeks ahead.

Ross is heading the department in the wake of a critical audit that found the DOT had been under-estimating the cost of highway projects by millions of dollars. The department faces a $1 billion budget shortfall and how to address it is one of the biggest and most divisive issues in the Legislature this year.

Ross told senators Thursday he believes the department faces a spending problem, not a problem with how much money it has.