Sunday, November 27, 2016

Walker tweet makes $1 billion highways' deficit mockable

[Updated from 11/26] Wisconsin's infamously-decrepit roads - - rated third and fourth worst nationally the last two years - - are on the road to budgetary overspending ruin, too, and Walker himself set the highway overspending in motion with early, key support for $6.4 billion in SE freeway projects which did not and still do have their required financing in hand - - so his Tweet below from a week ago is Ho, Ho Ho - -  so misleading.
The Wisconsin Legislature is grappling with a state highway budget unsustainably bloated by reckless borrowing and overspending on the so-called SE 'free'way system - - a problem that has helped stall the entire state budget process while preposterous presidential hopeful Scott Walker keeps skipping out to campaign, as a fiscal conservative, from Iowa to New Hampshire and beyond.
So it's important to remember that Walker - - as Milwaukee County Executive - - played a key role in 2003 on a SE regional planning commission advisory committee which voted, without a companion financing plan, to recommend to state highway planners that Wisconsin add to the SE 'freeway' system the maximum number of new lanes among the alternatives considered - - 127 miles of lanes instead of 108 - - in what ultimately became a $6.4 billion package.
Walker's motion added an estimated $750 million to the ultimate price tag and also increased the number of structures and land removed from the tax base. 
Walker then pushed the program forward, again without financing in hand, and along the I-94 corridor west fromMilwaukee, killed a federally-funded Amtrak extension that would have relieved some of the traffic congestion. 

Even the road builder lobby told last year that Scott Walker's cart had been put before the people's horse, to abuse an outdated cliche: 

When the [$800 million] Marquette [Interchange] was completed in 2008, it was by far the largest and most complex road project in Wisconsin’s history. Its plan was 4,400 pages long. The work required 46 construction cranes. A manager quipped in a PowerPoint presentation that the project would “create its own weather.”
Seven years later, though, the Marquette is no longer an outlier. The state is already building or planning three larger freeway projects in the Milwaukee area alone; the expansion and reconstruction of the nearby Zoo Interchange will cost more than twice as much as the Marquette. It’s all part of a $7 billion effort to widen and modernize the interstates around the city, an effort so massive it has its own line item in the state budget, “Southeast Wisconsin Freeway Megaprojects.”
“There’s a lot of work to do,” says Patrick Goss, director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, the most powerful lobby for the state’s highway-industrial complex. “We just have to figure out how to pay for it all.”
This is fiscal conservatism? More like government by road-builder special-interest wish list and funding via credit card - - with you and I picking up the payments and the long-term debt service. 

Update - - Note the cracks in the GOP's highway-happy facade, as Governor-in-waiting-in-his-own-mind Robin Vos, the Assembly Speaker, wants to be road-builders new best friend:

In a break from Walker, Vos and Assembly Republican leaders want to keep all options open — including raising the gas tax, increasing vehicle registration fees and instituting toll roads. Assembly Republicans are creating their own transportation plan and will begin holding public hearings on the issue starting Dec. 6, with a meeting in the state Capitol.

“Everything should be on the table to fix this problem,” Vos said in a recent meeting with reporters where he discussed the issue. “I prefer not to negotiate by drawing hard lines in the sand like Governor Walker does.”
If your kids give you a wish list for Christmas & they don't get everything on the list that's not a shortfall, that's living within budget.

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