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Mark Gottlieb column: Budget keeps us moving forward

3:15 PM, Apr. 1, 2013  |  Comments
The governor's proposed budget will keep Wisconsin's infrastructure strong
The governor's proposed budget will keep Wisconsin's infrastructure strong
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Recognizing the vital link between a quality transportation system and economic growth, Gov. Scott Walker's proposed transportation budget makes strategic investments that will create jobs, preserve our infrastructure and reform government without raising taxes or fees. These investments will provide a competitive advantage to all sectors of our economy that depend on the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, including industry, agriculture and tourism.

The governor's budget makes it a priority to keep the largest and most complex transportation projects on schedule, including the Zoo Interchange and Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee, Interstate 39/90 between Madison and Beloit and Highway 41 in the Fox Valley. It also funds hundreds of other state highway and bridge projects, local road improvements, freight and passenger rail, harbors, airports and public transit.

In this era of limited resources, the budget places a much-needed and overdue emphasis on improving the maintenance of our highway system. The governor's budget adds new funding for better maintenance and enacts reforms that will allow that maintenance to be performed more cost effectively.

At the Wisconsin DOT, preservation and safety are two of our most important goals. By improving the enforcement of truck size, weight and safety laws and by increasing the penalties for grossly overweight trucks and repeat offenders, the governor's budget will protect our highways and bridges from unnecessary damage and make travel safer for auto and truck drivers alike.

Making these transportation investments without increasing taxes and fees is a challenge. The state Legislature recently gave final approval to a constitutional amendment to protect transportation fund money from being used for non-transportation purposes; that amendment will go before the voters in November 2014. In the meantime, the governor has committed not only to ending the raids, but also to restoring the funds that were previously taken. This budget will repay almost $100 million of those past transfers. As has been the case in the past, the budget also uses bond funding, but only for the costliest and longest-life projects, as a means to spread their cost across both present and future users.

Transportation serves as the foundation that literally "drives" our economy. Too often, we take for granted our interconnected transportation system that supports every aspect of our economic health. Through wise stewardship and by prioritizing existing resources, Walker's proposed transportation budget keeps people and commerce in Wisconsin moving forward.

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