Friday, June 30, 2017

GOP swoons before trucking lobby, road budget woes worsen

Not surprising that enough of the Wisconsin's most conservative GOP legislators have shot down, stamped on and shredded a budgetary trial balloon lofted  address the state's over-committed, under-funded, boondoggle-ridden highway financing budget.

The proposal that will not see the light of day would have asking those heavy, road-busting 18-wheel big rigs to kick in a little more money to help maintain what's rated as the second-most deteriorated highway-and-street network in the country, where some roads have been allowed to crumble to gravel.

Of course these special-interest GOP legislators would not ask of the trucking businesses something so eminently logical.

GOP legislators, like their leader Scott Walker and an equally partisan, big business- obeisant sidekick AG Attorney General Schimel, see their mission as protecting and enabling and otherwise catering to special interests, not the public interest.

*  Why else would Schimel have let a big corporate air polluter get off penalty-free despite the evidence in hand?

*  Why else would Walker set in motion a "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources that has avoided inspections of scores of heavily-polluting and ever-expanding, manure-dumping large-scale animal feeding operations?

An agency that has green-lit everything from sand mine excavation of wetlands and pristine timber stands to an expansion of a north-south tar sand oil pipeline running from Superior to the Illinois border.

*  Why would Schimel and the Legislature set in motion the bill Walker just signed - - in private - - that gives permanent control of 13,000 high-capacity wells to their owners?

But back to the red-ink stained, road-builder friendly and now trucking-company friendlier state road budget which has our self-sabotaging 'conservative' Governor and GOP-run Legislature paralyzed:

Do they opt for Illinois-style road tolls? Don't bet on it.

An increase in the gas tax or vehicle registration and licensing fees? Walker says no to a gas tax increase, since he has a re-election campaign to launch and has proposed about a million times that he will never raise a tax. Except that he has, but that's another story, and added fees will generate insufficient revenues but a predictable citizen outcry.

End some proposed big projects and slow others as Walker has proposed? Legislators are balking. They need to show their constituents they're doing something concrete for their districts, even if the near-term impact is lane closing/orange barrel hell.

There aren't too many other alternatives. Even an earlier stick-it-to-liberals proposal to bump up fees on electric and hybrid vehicles didn't get any traction: again, the revenue gains are marginal and the bad public relations could bite Republicans who are trying to attract high-tech businesses and middle-class residents to a state with job creation numbers and in-migration data in the dumpster.

Not that I want to give these Republican over-spenders any new ideas, but if cars and truck owners are tapped out or off-limites, perhaps there's a per-cubic foot revenue capture (not, not a "tax" or "fee") which could be collected for the use of a bicycle air pump.

Or collected when the bike tire pumps are sold, since we all know that bicyclists use the roads just as the big rigs do, but are hardly paying their fair share for their pavement use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.