Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, Scott Walker, recently responded to criticism of his stewardship of the State’s roads with this strange defense:
Gov. Scott Walker questioned the need Tuesday for expanding highways at a time when the state is contemplating rebuilding roads in the Milwaukee area and around the state.
Without providing details, the GOP governor suggested the state could get by with adding fewer lanes when it rebuilds roads.
“There are some groups out there that want to spend billions and billions and billions of dollars on more, bigger, wider interchanges across the state,” Walker said. “I actually think we should be fixing and maintaining our infrastructure. I don’t know that we need bigger and better and broader right now when we have a changing transportation system.”
Remember, this is the same man who rejected federal money for a high-speed rail line to be constructed in Wisconsin:
Scott Walker, the Republican governor-elect of Wisconsin, came into office pledging that he would add 250,000 jobs to the state during his first term.
But just days after his November 2 triumph, Walker already is digging an even deeper hole on his jobs pledge. He’s touched off a political furor by trying to block thousands of jobs from being created for a high-speed rail project.
The governor-elect has announced that he would turn away $810 million in federal stimulus money aimed at creating a high-speed train system for the 80-mile corridor between Milwaukee and Madison.
So, if highways are not expanded to meet traffic needs, just how does Scott Walker think transportation needs will be met?
And Wisconsin does have expanded traffic needs:
Two of Wisconsin’s busiest interstates should be expanded with more lanes to keep drivers safe in increasing traffic, according to two state studies, challenging comments Gov. Scott Walker made this week on the state’s transportation needs.
If the corridor was not widened, it would not be able to handle traffic, which would cause “substantial backups along the freeway and overloading of other roadways in the area,” according to the study.
As traffic builds on highways, accidents often increase, too. In the case of Interstate 94 north and southbound, there were 2.5 accidents per day from 2000 through 2004, according to its environmental impact study. Of the nearly 1,500 accidents that occurred during those years, 11 were fatal, according to the report.
The reason why Scott Walker doesn’t agree with expert studies on this issue is all about money. Scott Walker has given away the State’s money to the wealthy through tax cuts and to a foreign company, Foxconn, through billions in subsidies.
Since taking office, Scott Walker has enacted a slew of tax cuts and tax credits that have severely cut into the State’s tax revenue.
Just looking at some of the larger cuts and credits, one can see that there was the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $1.4 Billion since enacted; the Combined Reporting–Pre-2009 Loss Sharing for Businesses Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $286 Million since enacted; the Capital Gains Deferral for WI Business Investments Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $158 Million since enacted; the Capital Gains Exclusion for WI Business Investments Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $85 Million since enacted; the Income Tax Rate Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $1.9 Billion since enacted; and the Private School Tuition Deduction, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $150 Million since enacted.
As can be guessed, these tax cuts and credits have overwhelmingly helped the wealthy.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Monday that would give Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group $3 billion in economic incentives to open a mega-plant in the state.
These taxpayer giveaways have directly impacted the State’s transportation budget:
In an April article from the Capital Times, the sad state of Wisconsin’s Budget under Scott Walker was put on full display:
“In 2009-10, 11 percent of the state’s transportation revenue went to interest on its debt. Now it’s 20 percent and is projected to climb by about 1 percent each year if the state continues to borrow as it has, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The total amount of transportation-related debt the state owes has nearly doubled over the last decade, from $2.6 billion in 2007 to $4.4 billion in 2017, according to the LFB. Transportation projects now make up 45 percent of total state borrowing, up 10 percentage points from a decade ago.”
A new road project serving the $10 billion Foxconn plant in Racine County could reduce funding for other state roads by as much as $90 million in the current budget, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The reduction leaves state highway rehabilitation funding as much as $870 million short of the $2.4 billion per biennium the Department of Transportation estimates is needed to maintain road conditions at current levels for the next decade.
And the budget that Scott Walker has busted has resulted in Wisconsin having some of the worst roads in the country.
On Monday, U.S. News & World Report ranked Wisconsin 49th out of 50 states for the quality of our roads. About 42 percent of Wisconsin’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to the national magazine, compared to just 19 percent in neighboring Illinois.
Scott Walker’s policies have resulted in Wisconsin’s roads being short changed, and he shows no signs of changing direction. Instead, he is offering lame excuses that are not grounded in reality.
Maybe because Scott Walker doesn’t use the roads. Scott Walker flies instead, on the taxpayers’ dime:
Gov. Scott Walker took 869 flights on state-owned airplanes over a two-and-a-half-year period while he was reconnecting with voters after his failed presidential run, costing taxpayers about $818,000, a liberal advocacy group reported Monday.
The flights included eight trips of less than 40 miles, including from Appleton to Green Bay, though that was part of a busy day on Sept. 7, 2016, in which Walker attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Neenah before promoting his sales tax holiday proposal in Green Bay and Menomonee Falls. The four flights he took that day each covered less than 75 miles and cost a total of $1,667.51.
In nine cases, he flew out of Madison round trip, covering distances of less than 75 miles, with each trip costing on average $819. The destinations included Burlington, West Bend and Oshkosh.
About 41 percent of the flights Walker took between September 2015, when he dropped out of the presidential race, and April 2018 covered distances of less than 100 miles, according to research by liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now.