Monday, February 04, 2008

Memo to Dems: more highways aren't the answer

The Dems in the state senate have come up with an economic development plan that includes a $50 million boost in transportation funding. Unfortunately, it includes absolutely no additional money for local road aids and no money for transit outside of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail extension. Here is the entire transportation proposal:

Increase funding for State Highway Rehabilitation Program and Major Highway Development Program. A $50 million investment in the transportation fund will translate into about 2500 good-paying jobs for our state according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Give state approval for the car rental fee increase of $13 in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties to provide funding source for the KRM project. This is the local funding source that has been agreed to, on a bipartisan basis, by Republican and Democratic County Executives and Mayors of Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.

The Senate's press release says everything in its proposal would be funded by closing the "Las Vegas Loophole," which allows state companies to shift profits in states without corporate income taxes. Obviously, the proposal to increase car rental fees negates that statement, and the Dems might want to re-word it.

The worst part of the proposal, though, is its enthusiastic endorsement more money for highways. Are the Senate Dems kidding? Have they driven on local roads lately? Have they depended on bus lines that just aren't there any more? Have they looked at the money WisDOT has wasted in these areas? (And when will the Legislature order an audit of the Marquette Interchange project, by the way?) Again and again wasteful road spending is touted as a way to create jobs. Adding and maintaining bus lines and fixing local roads create jobs, too, and save them for people reliant on transit.

Fix the loophole, sure. The Senate Dems need to fix their proposal as well.

Close the loophole, yes.

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