Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The GOP-led WI Legislature is free to add lead abatement $$

Three things to remember about the modest state funding for lead abatement in municipal water lines which Gov. Evers will propose in his first state budget:

* $40 million for lead-abatement financing is but a first-step/down-payment; the Legislature is free to increase it. Hey, GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, your district is close to the City of Racine, where the lead abatement need is known and substantial.

Ditto for rural well-water pollution prevention.

* Which is unlikely, given that public-sector hating Republicans control both legislative houses.

And the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in 2017 opposed a bi-partisan legislative initiative to speed up public sector financing of lead line replacement when the group with a straight face argued that Wisconsin city treasuries - - already cash-strapped by Republican spending and revenue caps - - could afford to do the work themselves without the participation of their water utilities. 

Not to mention that many municipalities, like Racine and Milwaukee, have large numbers of senior or low-income homeowners who could not afford to pay a portion of the per-property cost, let alone all of it.

But we have come to expect these uninformed inanities and selfish postures from the WMC: this is the same group which argued against the development of an environmental impact statement on the soil-and-water rich 3,000-acre Foxconn site, because - - wetlands, shmeplands - - there was no need for that kind of "a book report."

And the same WMC official had earlier supported a proposal to end state clean air regulation altogether.

* I understand that complete replacement statewide of all the lead-lined pipes could cost somewhere between $600 million and $1 billion.

That's a lot of money for the public sector to provide, no doubt through borrowing, but remember that the WMC had no objection to major state borrowing to pay for big road projects, like the Marquette and Zoo Interchanges - - all the planned segment upgrades to the SE Freeway System have been calculated at $6+billion - - or the transfer of more than $3 billion in state tax credits and highway spending to Foxconn.

If's pretty iffy that the Foxconn project will ever meet its initial promises, but imagine the added financial and social value to 176,000 properties were they upgraded with lead-free drinking water service.

Let me repeat: Hey, GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and major Foxconn booster, your district is close to the City of Racine, where the lead abatement need is known and substantial.

1 comment:

Katrina said...

In his State of the State Evers said the estimate for replacing lead pipes statewide is $2 billion. Madison did pipe replacement over 11 years so if it was done over 10 years, it would be $200 million/year, about the same as we are paying FoxConn per year for 15 years. He also said this: "But Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that for every $1 we spend on replacing lead drinking water lines, we will see a 133% return on our investment in higher lifetime earnings and better health outcomes." Will we see that kind of return on FoxConn? We won't know that for 25 years.