September 19, 2014

Assembly approves Transportation fund amendment

A proposed constitutional amendment banning raids on the state transportation fund is one step closer to being sent to voters. The state Assembly gave final approval to the measure Tuesday and, if the Senate signs off on the proposal, it will appear on ballots during the November 2014 election.

If approved by voters, state Representative Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) says it will make sure those segregated funds are used as intended and not spent in other areas of state government. During debate on the Assembly floor Tuesday, Ripp said “the longer we allow this money to be moved from one account to the other, the harder it will be to maintain the impressive transportation system we have in this state.”

Former Governor Jim Doyle dipped into the transportation fund several times to help shore up budget holes in other areas. In total, almost $1.3 billion was moved out of the fund in the past decade. State Representative Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) says that can’t happen anymore. He said people in the state should know that, when they pay taxes at the gas pump or other fees, the money is going to be used on transportation projects.

The amendment passed on a bipartisan 82-13 vote, although some Democrats were critical of Republicans for singling out transportation. State Representative Andy Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson) challenged lawmakers to protect other funds in the next state budget, such as public schools, the homestead tax credit, and health care.

Constitutional amendments must pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature before going to voters.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:06)

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story indicated the amendment has already passed on second consideration in the state Senate this session. The Senate has not yet acted on the proposal. WRN apologizes for the error.