Be assured that the next governor will not to raid the transportation fund. The promise came from both gubernatorial candidates who addressed the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association this morning.
Both political parties have their “hands dirty” when it comes to dipping into the fund said Democrat Tom Barrett. Barrett cited Governor Doyle and the Republican legislature who four years ago began raiding the fund for non-transportation needs. He supports a constitutional amendment to prohibit such transfers. Barrett pledged that even if an amendment does not pass, he would not allow the activity as governor.
Republican Scott Walker also vowed not to touch the transportation fund which stems from vehicle registration fees and fuel taxes. Walker also proposed to look further into other sources for the fund as fuel efficiency is affecting how much the fund can accumulate.
Barrett plugged his plan which includes a “fix it first” of road repair rather than expansion projects. He said these projects are shovel ready and would instantly create jobs.
Walker’s plan for the roads includes expansions. He cited trips on his Harley from his Wauwatosa home to the Wausau-area, which is now easier due to the revamped Highway 10. Walker mentioned the long term economic benefits of expansion like agricultural producers and manufacturers being able to move their products around, as well as tourism.
The comments came hours before a key state transportation panel met for the first time in eight years. During his speech, Barrett said he won’t wait eight weeks after being sworn in for the Transportation Projects Commission to gather. He said an active commission with credibility can help prevent lawmakers from slipping pet projects into budget proposals.
Walker also believes the panel needs a stronger role in the next administration. “These are the people who should be making the transportation priorities for the state of Wisconsin. The governor and the legislature should be talking about where those resources will come from,” he told reporters.
The panel later recommended four road projects including the expansion of I-39/90 south of Madison. The suggestions must clear the next governor and legislature.