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Joint Committee on Finance hears construction stimulus reports

By Paul Snyder

The Joint Committee on Finance Thursday got its first report from the construction industry on the effects of stimulus money in 2009.

Bob Barker, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin; Pat Goss, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association; and Jim Peterson, co-owner of Medford-based James Peterson Sons Inc., testified on the stimulus money’s impact on the construction industry.

Goss touted the importance of the $529.1 million in stimulus money received in 2009, which allowed many road workers to keep their jobs.

“Without the stimulus lettings,” he said, “Wisconsin would have had one of the lowest letting seasons in 2009 when adjusted for construction inflation.”

But Barker said the stimulus money has not provided much boost for contractors, and the future does not look brighter.

“(Next year) is projected to be one of the worst years in the decade, with total construction expected to be down 25 percent,” he said, “and we expect to see a continued downward trend in the first part of 2011.”

Barker said he was unsure what efforts could be made at the state level to generate more private sector work, but said a lot of that is going to depend on accessibility to credit for project financing.

“We’ve got contractors from Fond du Lac to Green Bay to Stevens Point to Wausau and others in the northern part of the state that have been feeling the recession for awhile,” he said. “Contractors in those areas are already working outside the state.”

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