It looks like our “fiscally responsible” Governor Scott Walker’s “plan” for funding transportation projects in Wisconsin is simple: kick the can down the road by borrowing $500 million.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received an early look at the plan, which the DOT will submit Thursday and the governor will use as he crafts the budget bill he’ll send to lawmakers in February. Walker will tour the state Thursday to tout the proposal, including two stops at projects that his administration wants to keep on track at a cost of more than $500 million over two years: I-39/90 from the Illinois state line to Madison; and Highway 10/441 in the Fox Valley.
But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that the Walker administration plan would forego permanent answers in favor of a “political solution” that would lead to longer delays on ever more expensive projects. Doing maintenance on outdated highways is akin to putting a new roof on a house that has been condemned, he said.
“I’m concerned that his solution does nothing more than kick the can down the road for two years,” Vos said.
The DOT proposal would also authorize $500 million in new borrowing, down from $850 million in debt approved in the current budget. That amount of new bonds is expected to ensure that in the coming years no more than 25 cents out of every dollar in the state transportation fund is used to pay off debt, state officials said.
While supporters of Gov. Walker love to talk about how he’s gotten the state on solid financial footing, the fact is Wisconsin is no better off than when Gov. Walker was elected – he’s just done a better job than his predecessors when it comes to evading the consequences of his irresponsible fiscal decisions.