Thursday, May 11, 2017

The GOP's family roads feud stalls budget; deeper questions unanswered

Because the GOP toll road proponents at budget time can't agree with the GOP credit card abusers can't agree with the GOP tax boosters can't agree with the GOP anti-tax-boosters and none of them are serious about re-prioritizing spending, fixing what we have and buying only what's affordable, they've come up with another genius move:

Put the whole thing aside.

Meanwhile, here's another suggestion:

As Wisconsin Republicans fight over how they - - but really you and I - - will pay for the highway expansion projects that are likely to require one or more drastic fiscal measures - - gas tax increases, vehicle registration price increases, more and more borrowing which means gobs of income tax revenue will be diverted from schools and health and education programs to pay the road-builders' bills - - 

 - - note that again the reporting repeats something astonishing but which seems to get short shrift:
In January, a nonpartisan audit found that the cost of these major projects in Wisconsin doubled between the time they were planned and built. That's because the DOT didn't take into account the effects that inflation and changes to project design would have on costs.
Read that carefully with my highlighting:  

...the cost of these major projects in Wisconsin doubled between the time they were planned and built. That's because the DOT didn't take into account the effects that inflation and changes to project design would have on costs.

I find that impossible to believe.

I think those audit findings should be moved to a more serious investigative forum, like a District Attorney's office. Maybe to the US Department of Transportation Inspector General - - some agency with standing that can take a look at the records and call people in and address what doesn't pass the smell test. 

Forget Wisconsin's Attorney General and partisan special interest captive Brad Schimel - - but someone, somewhere needs to take much deeper look at how so many expensive, publicly-financed projects in Wisconsin could double in cost to taxpayers because an entire agency of road-building and big-project accounting professionals "didn't take into account the effects that inflation and changes to project design would have on costs."

This matter has been allowed to slide, and deserves greater attention now that its damaging consequences have moved from the condition and usefulness of our roads to the state budget to the very procedures that are supposed to keep state government operating transparently and effectively.


Anonymous said...

It's not that easy to bid a highway project. Inflation might have played a small part but they usually build that in somehow. Plans may need to be changed depending on the geology or soils they find during building. Sometimes people fight projects for various reasons. For every mile built there are many changes that might need to be made. Some save money, some cost more than anticipated. Blaming DOT staff as the new Secretary did is shameful and disingenuous.

James Rowen said...

My comments are directed at WisDOT leadership.