Wisconsin voters will decide whether to protect transportation money

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/28/2013

Wisconsin voters will decide next year whether to amend the state’s constitution to protect transportation funds from raids.

More than two years after voters demanded that any money collected through the state’s fuel tax and vehicle fees be spent solely on transportation projects, the Senate voted 25-8 to endorse a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to help make it happen. House lawmakers already approved the proposed amendment – AJR2 – on an 82-13 vote.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, an estimated $1.2 billion was swiped from the transportation fund over a 10-year period. The transportation account now is projected to need $6 billion during the next decade just to cover needed maintenance.

Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, said the amendment provides a guarantee to taxpayers that future transportation revenue will be used as intended.

“One way or another we are going to have to find ways to make sure our roads and other transportation systems are safe and efficient,” Petrowski said in a news release. “This amendment provides a secure starting point for that discussion.”

In order for the Wisconsin Constitution to be amended, state lawmakers must approve the change in two consecutive sessions. Voters would then need to approve it during the November 2014 election.

Wisconsin lawmakers first approved the change during the 2011 regular session. The Senate endorsed the proposal on a 26-6 vote.

If recent history is any indication, public approval should not be a concern.

Fed up with the countless occurrences of state government dipping into transportation funding to help fill other budgets, Election Day 2010 gave voters in 53 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties the opportunity to make their voices heard on the importance of keeping transportation funds intact. Each county voted in favor of amending the state Constitution to prohibit transfers of money from the state’s transportation trust fund for purposes not related to transportation.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin, click here.

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