Monday, January 10, 2011

First Walker Fiscal Scapegoats: The Poor: - - Road Cost Overruns Far More Excessive

Scott Walker chatted up the morning team on AM 620 WTMJ radio a little while ago and touted his funding abuse, fraud and waste commission whose members he will announce later today.

He declined to get into specifics about task force members' names, but did suggest two fertile areas of scrutiny that they could pursue to yield savings, and the figure of $20 million was thrown out: food stamps improperly in the hands of illegal immigrants and fraudulently spent child care program dollars in Milwaukee County.

No one is in favor of wasted or improperly spent and received public funding, but how convenient that the first two areas that Walker said needed action are programs serving politically-disconnected low-income people.

I have a idea for the commission's attention:

Why have 27 recent highway projects in Wisconsin run over budget by more than $1.3 billion?

Not my figure - - it came from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the provider of the funding, and was widely reported by the Associated Press.

Sample paragraphs:

"The [WisDOT report reviewed 27 projects lawmakers approved from 1989 to 2004 that are under construction. The projects' current total estimated costs are $3.31 billion, up from $1.95 billion when the Legislature approved them.

Several factors have played into the overruns, including a $207 million jump in real estate purchase costs over the last 15 years, a $216 million increase in the cost of construction labor and materials and a $212 million increase in design costs."

$1.3+ billion: now we're talking real money, and remember, road projects have recurring public costs - - repairs, plowing, patrolling and the inevitable expansion.

And thanks to the commenter who reminded me about the $20+ million "Interchange to Nowhere" being built off I-94 in Sprawlville to serve the non-existent Pabst Farms shopping mall in Western Waukesha County.

We'll see if the politically-better-connected road builders see their funding sources come under the Walker commission's wasteful-spending purview.


Anonymous said...

it is really not that much different than the IRS spending all their time on two bit W2 form fraud rather than going after corporation where one investigation might represent millions.

Anonymous said...

The local DOT office in Waukesha has confirmed the contracts are let and construction will proceed on a four roundabout interchange at HWY P and I-94 at Oconomowoc. Total cost $20 million+ and will serve a cornfield. If this plan doesn't constitute waste what would. Oconomowoc has already changed the classification of the vacant Pabst Farm lands back to agriculture for the next 5 years and reducing taxable base by over $40 million. Not a bridge to nowhere but an interchange to a corn field.

James Rowen said...

Thanks for the reminder. I'd written often about the Interchange to Nowhere. Sample - -
I added that info. to the posting, so thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks anon @ 10:53,

OT, I am (besides likely being naive' with the comment) at a loss by what to me seems apparent on its face, that the Citizen's United decision about the person-hood decision defining corporations per spending on free speech would automatically dissolve all existing corporation tax law and tort protection granted by that very definition of personal status.

On topic, does this move by Walker against those least able to reply or defend themselves surprise anyone?


Jack Lohman said...

Yea, but you all miss the point that roads thrive because of campaign contributions, of which Walker has received more than his share. If you want taxes spent correctly you will first have to implement public funding of campaigns.

Anonymous said...

Once again we see selective morality in play. Just as we can not stem voter fraud because someone MIGHT be disenfranchised ( the claim itself is somewhat fraudulent) now we can not investigate fraud in social services?

I have a novel idea. Why not root out waste, fraud and inefficiency where ever it is to be found?
Jim. really, you halo is akilter.

James Rowen said...

I'm just saying - - expand the list.

Jim Bouman said...

Yesterday an anonymous comment on this Political Environment blog post offered some updated info on the Sawyer Road/ Hwy. P interchange planned as frosting on the cake of Pabst Farms housing development, Aurora Summit Hospital and a vaporous, hallucinated "Regional Destination Shopping Mall".

We were told that the $20+ million upgrade to the Hwy P interchange is ready to begin--contracts let, and ready to go. Also, that Pabst Farms housing development has returned the huge swathes of land intended to be the for more pricey (phase II) and insanely pricey (Phase III) enclaves of the Pabst Farms Experience back into plain old farm land. This lets them pay less real estate taxes on what formerly was designated as residential land.

Good news it is--the part about the re-classified land. But... The DOT's I-94 and Sawyer Road interchange foolishness is NOT yet planned, NOT under contract and NOT about-to-happen as the commenter mistakenly stated yesterday. (hey, it's hard to keep up with this moving target).

But it is in the plans, bigger than ever, just shoved off until later. That's ok; that's good news. Means we still have opportunities to comment , criticize and harpoon the DOT plan to waste money trying to prop up Pabst Farms and Aurora Summit.

Betsey said...

BTW: Aurora has had major lay offs of workers -- mostly from Summit Hospital. I guess the sick people--at least the paying sick, the ones with health insurance--haven't materialized either.

James Rowen said...

Yes - -