Transportation Budget Request Would Drain Resources from Schools and Communities

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:07 PM by

The head of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation has proposed diverting resources usually used to build strong schools, communities, and health care systems, and use the money instead to construct and repair highways.

The Secretary of Transportation has recommended that that lawmakers transfer $548 million from the state’s general fund to the transportation program in the state’s upcoming two-year budget. This proposed transfer would shortchange important priorities supported by the general fund, such as keeping higher education affordable and helping workers get the training they need.

In each of the last several budgets, lawmakers have increased the resources transferred away from the general fund to support transportation programs. If lawmakers transfer the $548 million requested for the state’s next budget, there will be a net gain to transportation programs of $862 million over fourteen years, and a net loss to the general fund of that same amount.

Transfers to Transportation

At the ballot box this fall, voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibits lawmakers transferring money out of the state transportation fund to use for other public services. But the amendment does nothing to prohibit transfers such as the one proposed by the Secretary of Transportation, which would move money into the transportation fund.

In addition to diverting money from the general fund, the Secretary of Transportation has requested that lawmakers increase gas taxes and fees by $751 million to provide additional resources to transportation.

The Department of Transportation has asked lawmakers to approve these two major new sources of revenue – resources diverted from the general fund, and new taxes and fees – because there isn’t nearly enough money in the state’s transportation fund to pay for road building and repair projects at the current level. One way to help address the shortfall would be to reevaluate the state’s transportation programs. Wisconsin spends a lot of money on new highway expansion programs, even as the number of highway miles Wisconsin drivers travel has dropped. By cutting back on highway expansions, we could free up money to repair and maintain our transportation network, and reduce overall costs at the same time.

The needs of Wisconsin’s schools and communities already far exceed the amount of revenue the state is projected to take in during the next budget period. To address the gap, lawmakers are likely to make harmful spending cuts that reduce economic opportunities for child and families. They should not exacerbate the damage by draining additional resources from the general fund.

Tamarine Cornelius

2 Responses to “Transportation Budget Request Would Drain Resources from Schools and Communities”

  1. […] its budget blog post from yesterday, the Wisconsin Budget Project notes that the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department […]

  2. Dennis says:

    Seems to me? The Transporation Budget should not be Sued to Fund Any Education Programs and Vice Versa
    So why are they ?

    We need our Hwy’s/Roads and Bridges Kept in Top Condition for Public Safety
    We also need Improved Winter Service of our Roads and hwy’s for Public Safety
    If we don’t? Mor Accidents = More Detahs = Less Education will be Needed
    for there will be Less to Educate.. Will it Not?
    And Isn’t it the Transportation Secretary’s Job to Get as Much Funding as They Need to Maintain oour Roads and Hwy’s?

    I would be concerned if he Didn’t do that job..

    If More Education funding Is neededin your Coummunity? Then seems to me Property Taxes are the Source to do that job..
    Not Using Transporation Funding’s/Budget $ Earmarked for our Hwys/Roads..

    Is The Transporation Budget being Funded in part by Education Funding? If it is? It Shouldn’t be, should it? Other than paying for School Bus transporation at the most? and even then..

    Lets keep Both Budgets and funding resources Seperated shall we?

    Don’t Know about anyone else, but isn’t what we elect you people for to do?

    Both Depts should be kept seperate and funded seperately..