[Madison, Wis...] There's a lot of back and forth in Wisconsin's transportation funding fight.
The "revenue enhancer" faction will tell you that a $1 billion transportation budget shortfall - a figure that has been disputed - needs to be filled like potholes with more taxpayer cash. They insist on gas taxes, vehicle fees, something, anything to deliver a "long-term solution" to the Badger State's transpo needs. Bonding is bad, very bad, they say, tantamount to a drunken spender on a credit card bender.
But the band of bonding brothers and sisters say the tax-hike camp is taking taxpayers for a bumpy ambulance ride. They just say no to the notion of gas tax increases and fee hikes. More so, they argue that before the Legislature and the governor ask taxpayers to shoulder more of the burden for the state's roads and bridges, particularly in an era of budget surpluses, the pols should first get a handle on a troubled Department of Transportation that has wasted billions of tax dollars.
Fine, the enhancers fire back. But there isn't nearly enough in DOT waste and inefficiencies to fill the funding gap for all of those crumbling roads and cash suck southeast Wisconsin "Mega Projects," they declare.
The MacIver Institute has dug into the numbers, taken a deeper dive into DOT projects that are at the very least questionable, if not an outright waste of taxpayer money, and administrative failures that have added substantial and unnecessary costs. We found nearly $2 billion in wasteful Wisconsin projects and practices - $1,965,882,239 to be precise.
As conservative lawmakers weigh gas tax hikes, vehicle fee uppers, tolls, heavy truck taxes, hefty borrowing, even trading income tax cuts for transportation funding, we urge them to revisit the DOT projects and practices that are unnecessarily costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.