Early WI budget includes removal of APU program funding

| 2/25/2009

One of the better-funded state programs for APU reimbursement may not exist much longer.

The Wisconsin Diesel Truck Idling Reduction Grant Program has been cut out of the currently proposed state budget, also known as Assembly Bill 75.

In 2007, Wisconsin’s APU Program granted nearly $250,000 of its $2 million total to about 50 OOIDA Members and Land Line readers. For 2008, the Association’s members benefited to the tune of $400,000.

OOIDA Member Miles Verhoef of Tomah, WI, told Land Line Now that recent recommendations from Gov. Jim Doyle’s Task Force on Global Warming would implement highly restrictive idling regulations. Such measures would make APU funding a necessity, he said.

“We’re hoping he will see fit to remove that portion from the budget bill, because he has appointed the task force on global warming,” Verhoef said. “We’re hoping folks in Wisconsin will contact the governor, be polite, professional, and request that he continue to leave the grant program in place so small motor carriers can take advantage.”

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist, said hundreds of thousands of dollars from last year’s program were returned, unspent. That was because of 75 percent of the APU funds being earmarked for large carriers, while all 25 percent of the small carrier funds were used.

“The extra money being returned indicated to the governor that the program was not needed. This misconception was fueled by the originating legislation that gave large motor carriers 75 percent of the funding but capped their total benefit,” Rajkovacz told Land Line. “Meanwhile, small businesses were limited to 25 percent of funds available and, if not constrained by the legislation, would likely have used all available funding. This legislation was manipulated by the large carriers to give them a larger piece of the pie than they deserved.

“Heck – anytime you have hundreds of thousands of dollars out of a $2 million program, returned, politically that tells the governor there isn’t a need for this. Well, that’s not how to read this,” Rajkovacz said. “It means the constraints on being able to fund small businesses need to be lifted.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer