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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

REMINDER: Transportation referendum on the ballot


Tuesday, voters in 53 Wisconsin counties will see this question on their ballots:

"Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to prohibit any further transfers or lapses from the segregated transportation fund?"

How did this referendum get on the ballots in almost three quarters of the counties in the state?

During three consecutive biennial state budgets, Governor Doyle raided the state’s transportation fund. Here is the history, provided by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) in an informational paper published during January 2009:

“The 2003-05 budget act used a combination of direct appropriations from the transportation fund for general fund programs (shared revenue and K-12 education aids) and a transfer of revenues from the transportation fund to the general fund, for a total of $675.0 million.”

First raid = $675 million.

Back to the LFB:

“The 2005-07 biennial budget act made a transfer of $427.0 million from the transportation fund to the general fund, but did not make any direct appropriations from the transportation fund to general fund programs.”

Second raid = $427 million.

Again, from the LFB:

“The 2007-09 budget act (Act 20) and the 2008-09 budget adjustment act (Act 226) together resulted in a transfer of $155 million from the transportation fund to the general fund. “

Third raid = $155 million.

The six-year total of transfers and appropriations from the transportation fund = $1.257 billion.

The LFB reports the use of replacement bonds offset the transfers ($865.5 million), however the debt service paid from the transportation fund during the 2003-05 biennium ($43.9 million) adds to the loss.

The LFB concludes, “Therefore, the total loss to the transportation fund over the six years equals $435.4 million.”

That’s $435.4 million unavailable for the use it was intended: road projects statewide.

"Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to prohibit any further transfers or lapses from the segregated transportation fund?"

I will be voting yes.

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