Thursday, July 6, 2017

Vos plays the Foxconn card in WI budget deadlock

The mess that is the state's over-budget, pothole-pitted and red-ink stained highway system and looming fiscal fiasco just got even more intense.

Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos raised the stakes in stalled budget discussions among Republican leaders by worrying aloud that delays in funding the completion of I-94 North/South expansion through Racine and Kenosha Counties could harm the state's ability to successfully convince electronics giant Foxconn to open a much-rumored mega-plant in the area,

It would be premature to say that Vos is laying the groundwork for a 'who lost Foxconn' position, but Vos and Gov. Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are all big boys and seasoned pols, so they will read this section of a Journal Sentinel story as a clean signal that Vos is willing to use the Foxconn opportunity as leverage for his preferences in what is becoming a really big and multi-layered political, transportation, fiscal, development and employment story:
Vos did point to another company besides Foxconn that is weighing a move to a new industrial park in the Village of Caledonia, in northern Racine County. That unnamed business is concerned about the status of the I-94 North-South project, the speaker said.
One of the things that they worry about is the Highway K interchange being done and being able to be competitive and move their products on the interstate,” Vos said
For his part, Vos has long been concerned about finishing work on the North-South leg and providing more road funding to help make that and other highway projects happen.
But Walker and Senate Republicans have refused to raise taxes to help fund roads.  That disagreement has contributed to a budget stalemate at the Capitol.
If the I-94 project is ramped up, other projects - - new, under construction or already delayed - - would have to be shoved farther down the list, thus raising their ultimate cost.

Or Walker and Fitzgerald would have to cave on their opposition to more taxes and fees.

And none of them are willing to come out full-bore for tolls because that policy shift would take years to implement, faces legal hurdles, and brings with it a particular odiferous whiff of anything stamped Made in Illinois.

So all of these genius fiscal conservatives bear a share of the blame for repeatedly over-spending on bigger and wider new highways while ignoring budgeting basics and the deteriorating condition of the roads we already have. 

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