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Protect and defend money for roadwork

By Tom Fetters

I have this problem believing what I’m told. For example:

— I want to believe that my dollars for charity will help those in need. But then I read about contributions getting diverted so greedy execs can live the high life.

— I want to believe that my votes for candidates will help bring about the changes promised. But then I notice that few, if any, of those changes come to pass.

— I want to believe that the gasoline taxes and registration fees I pay to keep my car licensed and running are going to help fill potholes and keep bridges standing. But then I read about lawmakers dipping into the transportation budget to plug shortfalls elsewhere.

To say this taxpayer’s faith is shaken is an understatement.

So I tend to agree with the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin in its effort to pass a state constitutional amendment that would require money earmarked for building and fixing roads actually be used to build and fix roads.

State money for road construction and repairs is scarce enough even before lawmakers declare an emergency in another budget and provide a bailout by shifting transportation dollars. A constitutional amendment would prevent that from happening, and would ensure that our taxes and fees earmarked for roadwork would be used for just that.

Then maybe — at least when it comes to the state’s use of my gasoline taxes and registration fees — I’d be more likely to believe what I’m told.

Of course, such an amendment is no guarantee of smooth roads. As a former resident of Michigan — one of the Midwestern states mentioned by the transportation development association’s Craig Thompson as having such an amendment — I know firsthand that constitutional protection of the transportation budget does not prevent car-swallowing potholes.

Tom Fetters is a copy editor at The Daily Reporter. He also has a hard time believing the toll booths on his way back to Michigan will come down after the roads are paid off.

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