Amendment would stop transportation fund moves

October 29, 2014

 

MADISON A measure on the Nov. 4 ballot would amend the Wisconsin Constitution to prevent transfers from the state's transportation fund.

WHAT EXACTLY WOULD THIS DO?

The amendment would prevent the Legislature from taking money from the transportation fund, which goes toward road repair and construction, and allocating it for other uses. Any money the state collects through the gas tax, fees imposed on driver's licenses and titling vehicles could only be deposited in the transportation fund.

HOW DID IT GET HERE?

The Legislature put it there. But it won't get added to the constitution unless voters also approve it. It had bipartisan support among lawmakers last year, with the Senate voting 25-8 and the Assembly voting 82-13 in favor of it.

WHY IS IT NEEDED?

The amendment, which also has support from the construction industry, business leaders and others, came about after the Legislature used $1.4 billion from the fund between 2003 and 2011 to pay for schools and other expenses. At the same time, the Legislature approved $1.2 billion in borrowing for transportation spending.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS SAY?

Some question whether it's wise to remove the flexibility to take money from the fund in emergencies, and whether the transportation fund should be protected while other pots of money are not. Questions have also been raised about amending the constitution to protect the fund, rather than changing state law, which can be altered more easily in the future.

WILL THIS HELP GET MY POTHOLES FILLED?

It won't hurt, but even with this amendment the transportation budget still faces a $680 million shortfall. The Legislature and candidates for governor are looking at ways to increase funding, including raising taxes, but they have not coalesced around any one approach.

 

Associated Press