This picture is so fitting for our Fair Governor. The latest way it applies is on the subject of road funding, where the state is already dreadfully behind when it comes to funding major projects as well as everyday maintenance. And yet despite that reality, Gov Walker insists on digging his ditch deeper and deeper.
In typical Walker fashion, he’s continuing to double-down and make excuses for his idiotic "no-tax, no-fee" stance on road funding. Take a look at this garbage that he sent out yesterday.
Good roads and bridges are important to Wisconsin and our economy. Since we took office, more than $18 billion has been invested into our transportation system, and we increased the amount sent to local governments to help maintain their infrastructure in 2015.Whoop-de-fuckin’ do! I’m not entirely sure where the “$18 billion” estimate comes from (it seems to be related to the entire DOT budget, which is $5.6 billion for this next 2-year budget), but I do know several of those billions in the DOT budget are federal dollars. Apparently that’s a source from DC which is OK for Scotty to take if it’s for roads and bridges, as oposed to trains or broadband or health care. Funny that.
And Walker's mention of a one-year, 4% increase in 2015 to local governments ignores the fact that local roads aids are still below the amount that they were getting when Walker and WisGOP took office 5 ½ years ago. In addition, the bullet of Act 10’s “tools” (which Walker and WisGOP used to justify cuts to local governments starting in 2012 and going through 2014) has already been shot. Also, those aids will stay the same for the next 18 months, despite the fact that the cost to build and maintain roads continues to go up.
General Transportation Aids to local governments, Wisconsin
2011 Counties- $104.417 million
2011 Municipalities- $328.507 million
2015 Counties- $98.400 million
2015 Municipalities- $321.261 million
2017 Counties- $98.400 million (-5.76% vs 2011)
2017 Municipalities- $321.261 million (-2.21% vs 2011)
That’s a cut in ACTUAL dollars over the course of 6 years. We’re not even taking into account inflation or additional roads and population to take care of since 2011. How are cities, villages and town are supposed to keep potholes from opening up with that revenue source being taken away?
We continue with Scotty's justifications.
There has been a lot of talk recently by some who believe we should raise the gas tax so politicians in Madison can spend more of your hard-earned money. That is not leadership. During the 2014 campaign, I made it clear I would not support a gas tax increase or a vehicle registration increase without a corresponding decrease in other state taxes. I will not raise the overall tax burden on the hardworking people of Wisconsin.So instead, you’ll raise the property tax burden and continue the trend of numerous new wheel taxes around the state as the costs of repair inevitably get shifted down to the local level. And you’ll raise the chances of an out-of-pocket burden “the hardworking people of Wisconsin” will face in having to deal with repairs to their vehicles because you clung to this ridiculous notion. Nice strategy.
*** Keeping my word is incredibly important. So is keeping the state's economy headed in the right direction. At the time of this writing, the average price of unleaded gas in Wisconsin is $2.50 per gallon. Of that, 30.9 cents are state taxes. According to the American Petroleum Institute, which tracks gas taxes across the 50 states, Wisconsin is in the top 10 for the highest gas excise tax in the nation. If you include federal taxes and fees, Wisconsin drivers are paying more than 50 cents in taxes per gallon. Jacking up taxes would throw a wet blanket on our economic growth.Whoop-de-fuckin’-do again! Do you really think a 5-cent or 10-cent increase in the gas tax will stop all growth from happening in the state? Especially when compared to the sizable drop in gas prices over recent years, and the reality that these lower prices haven’t done a damn thing to raise our Wisconsin’s sales tax revenues or job growth in recent years? Why would you think the reverse would be true, where slightly higher gas prices would somehow slam activity shut? It’s even more telling that Walker thinks a pose of “keeping taxes low” is more important than the added investment in infrastructure and new jobs that would occur from better maintenance and improvements to roads (and who are you concerned about keeping your word to, anyway?).
Bitng the bullet and paying more taxes to fix the roads might improve the public image of a state whose highways can’t be impressing the typical tourist and traveler these days. How can the Walker Administration talk up Wisconsin tourism on one hand, and then allow the roads that the tourists take to go to shit, and discourage them from wanting to come back here as a result? And don’t take my word for it, listen to what the co-owner of the Tommy Bartlett enterprises in the Dells has to say about it today.
The vast majority of Wisconsin tourists drive to their final destinations. That’s why it’s crucial to consider the needs of the tourism industry when developing statewide transportation priorities and funding strategies. We want to create a system that moves our visitors safely, efficiently and with the least amount of stress possible. Visitors to Wisconsin don’t spend money when they’re stuck in traffic or delayed due to poor road conditions.When you compare that statement with Walker’s excuses and symbolism, it’s really obvious that Gov Dropout has never worked a real job in his adult life, isn’t it? And when the GOP Speaker of the Assembly is openly opposing Walker’s no-tax “word” on the road funding issue, and increasing numbers of news stories from around the state feature citizens complaining how bad the roads are, it tells you that people throughout the state aren’t buying the fairy tale Scotty is trying to peddle.
My fear is that Wisconsin’s transportation funding problems are beginning to hurt the state’s tourism industry. Big projects like the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee and I-39/90 from Madison to the state line are facing multi-year delays. Future projects like Interstate expansion south of Wisconsin Dells and I-94 in western Wisconsin are decades away from reality because of demands on dwindling transportation revenues.
In order to grow our economy, tax revenues and job opportunities, we need to invest in and build up Wisconsin. If Wisconsin is truly “open for business” then policymakers and the Governor must develop a bipartisan long-term transportation funding solution so tourists aren’t detoured to destinations in other states because of poor road conditions.
The Wisconsin State Journal's Phil Hands had it right earlier this month.