Jun 30, 201510:45 AMTransportation Matters
with Debby Jackson
Can our bad roads be good for tourism?
(page 1 of 2)
As the debate over the transportation fund continues to hold up passage of the state’s biennial budget, one is left to wonder if we are indeed through the looking glass.
There are a lot of elected officials who have consistently extolled the importance of transportation to Wisconsin’s overall economy, battling over just how much to cut it. And the only response from the governor is that he will sign a transportation budget with reduced bonding.
In 2013, during his speech to the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officials, Gov. Scott Walker emphasized the importance of the state’s infrastructure and told the audience, “Transportation is what drives our economy here in Wisconsin.”
Unlike his colleagues in other states around the country, however, the governor is unwilling to raise the user fees to pay for that transportation system. Instead he has proposed a massive amount of borrowing, which his Republican colleagues in the legislature have called “irresponsible.”
When the legislature has floated adjusting user fees to pay for our transportation repairs and upgrades the governor has not hesitated to say he would veto those increases.
And so here we sit. If the Republican-controlled legislature is sincere about keeping bonding at a responsible level and there is no chance of adjusting registration fees or the gas tax, then the debate naturally devolves into how much to cut and where. All for a system that “drives our economy here in Wisconsin.”
Seems like a head scratcher, doesn’t it? But perhaps I’m thinking about this too narrowly. I mean, traditionally when we talk about transportation and the economy we think of things like our farmers getting their produce to markets here and abroad. Or tourists motoring up I-39/90 to the Dells. Or timber harvested in the northern part of the state traveling across our state and county roads to the mill.