I had noted earlier today on my blog the blatant giveaway that Republican budget-writing committee chairs Alberta Darling and Robin Vos inserted into the bill as the holiday weekend approached Friday that basically privatized most local government road work.
Darling's fellow Senator and President Mike Ellis has today weighed in - - calling the idea was "stupid," and wasteful, and senseless - - and said he'd try and pull it from the budget.
So is anyone coordinating this budget-writing in the Walker era, or is it every porker for him/herself?
Ellis' statement, in full, posted today on The Wheeler Report:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 1, 2011
Ellis Blasts Finance Vote on Transportation
A provision inserted in the state budget that prohibits counties and municipalities from using their own employees on highway improvement projects is a senseless assault on local control and state taxpayers, state Senator Michael Ellis charged today.
“This is stupid,” Ellis said. “I will definitely have an amendment to remove this senseless provision when the budget comes to the state senate.
“In times of economic uncertainty and diminished government budgets, we should be encouraging local government to find savings wherever they can. In fact, that’s the entire premise behind Governor Walker’s plan to scale back collective bargaining for many public employees – to provide the tools local governments can use to find savings in employee fringe benefits, retirement and other employment-related areas in order to better deal with drastic reductions in state aids.”
Ellis said it doesn’t make any sense that the Joint Committee on Finance has voted to take away a very effective tool that many towns and municipalities have used to control the costs of repair and upkeep of their local roads.
Last week, the committee voted to prohibit local governments from using their own workforce to perform highway improvement projects under their jurisdiction if the project costs more than $100,000.
In addition, local governments are prohibited from doing any public construction, public works project or construction-related service for or with another unit of government under any agreement or arrangement, including, without limitation, an intergovernmental cooperative agreement or under local government purchasing provisions.
“Prohibiting counties and municipalities from using their own employees and from cooperating with other local governments will force those governments to use private contractors who pay a higher prevailing wage, thus increasing costs to local taxpayers, Ellis said.
“At a time when we should be encouraging local governments to save money and to get the best deal on their taxpayer money as they possibly can, here we are discouraging an effective means of keeping highway project costs under control. Why on earth would we discourage cooperation between communities for the benefit of taxpayers?
“Whatever happened to honoring local control? The state simply should not be in the business of micromanaging local government, especially when the state’s interference is almost guaranteed to increase local costs.”
Ellis said the provision “doesn’t pass the smell test.” It hurts local government, he said, and is costly to the taxpayer.
“The only ones who seem to benefit are the road builders. Last session I criticized Governor Doyle’s unnecessary and costly auto insurance changes as a payoff to the trial lawyers. It doesn’t look any better when Republicans insert just as unnecessary and costly provisions that appear to benefit their friends.”