Monday, May 30, 2011

More Money For Wisconsin Highways, Less For Everything Else

The legislature is hacking the financing for the state's popular Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program by 30% - - and the Journal Sentinel opines that, while regrettable, it's the way things have to be given the state's fiscal woes.

And that's been the Walker justification and approach whether for land preservation or education budgets or trains or sewer projects or school nurses or bus services - - cut, cut, cut...because we're broke, broke, broke.

Except when it comes to highways.

Then it's spend, spend, spend.

AM 620 WTMJ, a Walker-friendly source, says the transportation budget increase is more than $300 million. Since transit is coming on for cuts, you can read "transportation" as road-building. Trust me.

A public interest organization looks at proposed Wisconsin highway projects to come up with a figure about five-to-six times larger. 

My research shows Walker favoring $1 billion for rebuilding and a new lane on I-90 from the Madison area to Rockford; $350 million to replace Milwaukee's Hoan Bridge; hundreds of millions on a somewhat slowed pace to finish the I-94 North/South widening and rebuilding between the Milwaukee airport and the Illinois line; and Walker's favorite - - the fast-tracked, Waukesha County-driven $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange rebuilding and expansion- - reduced in scope, but still a whopping expenditure for a state that's so broke.

What we have here is what transportation watchdog Gretchen Schuldt calls "a binge."

Aware that people have calculators, Walker & Co. play the rhetoric card, arguing that highway costs are not expenditures - - they are investments - - that help the economy and create jobs.

I'd say the same is true for Stewardship funding, and schools and other forms of infrastructure, too..

Back to the Journal Sentinel editorial, which stated:

Cuts in the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, while painful, are the right thing to do given the state's budget woes.

So when it comes to highway spending: where's the equity?


Cindy K. said...

I didn't bother to go back to look, but you could probably tell me: Did you complain about Doyle's "investments" into the state highway system?

If so, I applaud you for being consistent.

James Rowen said...

As Mayor Norquist's policy director, and chief of staff, I helped in the fight against the SE freeway reconstruction and expansion during the Doyle and McCallum administrations, and once i began this blog in 2007, have consistently opposed these plans regardless of who is and was Gov.

One example here - -