Voters overwhelmingly approved a state Constitutional amendment Tuesday designed to keep Wisconsin lawmakers from raiding the state transportation fund. According to unofficial returns, the ballot measure passed with 80 percent of the vote.
The amendment, which had to pass two consecutive legislative sessions before going to a statewide vote, was introduced in response to almost $1.4 billion being taken from the transportation fund between 2003 and 2011 to help pay for other budget programs. The fund, which includes money collected from gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, is supposed to be used only for transportation projects. However, advocates of the amendment argued lawmakers and the governor used loopholes to use it for other purposes.
The measure attracted little opposition during the run-up to Election Day. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) was among a handful of critics who argued its adoption would “handcuff” the Legislature and governor in the future by making a huge sum of money off limits, regardless of the state’s current financial situation. The Madison Democrat also criticized the amendment as unfairly protecting a single lobbying interest, since road builders would have a “lock on a big sum of money that cannot be used for any other purpose.”