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Ending state transportation fund raids

by

MADISON (WRN)  Legislation takes a step forward as the Assembly Transportation Committee votes to prevent future raids on the state transportation fund.

The proposed constitutional amendment would protect the state transportation fund from transfers. Committee Chair Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) is the author of the measure (AJR 2).

“What the amendment specifically requires is that there be a transportation fund and requires that revenues directly related to transportation function be deposited in that fund. It then requires revenues deposited in that fund only be spent for transportation services.”

That means no borrowing, taking, or sneaking money earmarked for transportation needs in Wisconsin. Under the Doyle Administration, over a billion dollars was raided from the transportation fund to help the general fund.

Craig Thompson is executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin. He tells panel members the amendment has been the cornerstone issue for his group in recent years. He says there’s a real understanding around the state about the infrastructure’s significance to our economy and ability to attract and retain businesses.

“But there is a disconnect when we talk about funding that. The push-back I hear often is ‘How do I know that the user fees we pay are, in fact, going to go to fund the transportation improvements that you are talking about?’”

The amendment is up for second consideration and would go to voters in November of 2014 for a statewide referendum upon passing both houses again this session. It passed through Tuesday’s committee 15-0.

The amendment must pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature before being put to the voters on a statewide ballot. If approved, the amendment becomes part of the state constitution.Last week the Transportation Policy and Finance Commission released their final recommendations for increasing revenues to the transportation fund. This amendment was among them.

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