ELECTION 2014: Wisconsin voters to decide whether to protect transportation money

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/15/2014

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

At the urging of voters, the Wisconsin Legislature voted late last year to endorse a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would make sure that revenue collected through the state’s fuel tax and vehicle fees is spent solely on transportation projects

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, an estimated $1.2 billion was swiped from the state 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.

Question 1 on the fall ballot will ask voters whether the state should require all fuel tax and vehicle fee revenue to be used only for the state’s transportation system.

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 previous news release. “This amendment provides a secure starting point for that discussion.”

In order for the Wisconsin Constitution to be amended, state lawmakers were required to approve the change in two consecutive sessions. After meeting the legislative requirement, voters now need to approve it during the Nov. 4 election.

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, voters in 53 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties were given the opportunity on Election Day 2010 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.

The deadline to register to vote by mail for the fall election in Wisconsin is Oct. 15. Election Day registration is also available.

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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