Voters: Keep hands off transportation funds
Question: Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to prohibit any further transfers or lapses from the segregated transportation fund?
JANESVILLE Rock County residents want state legislators to change the Wisconsin Constitution to prevent lawmakers from borrowing from the state's segregated transportation fund to fill funding gaps in other programs.
Rock was one of 53 Wisconsin counties to participate in the advisory referendum Tuesday. The vote does not change the state Constitution.
The Finding Forward Coalition, an advocacy group comprising transportation, business and municipal interest groups has been pushing the ballot measure in counties across the state.
The transportation fund contains money collected from two sources: taxes drivers pay at the gas pump and fees paid for vehicle registration, according to a news release from Finding Forward. The funds historically have been segregated so that the people using the transportation system pay for its upkeep.
Local municipalities and counties rely on state funding for transportation projects as well as other programs. Advocates of the constitutional change have said that when the state shifts money out of the transportation fund, it leaves less money for local road maintenance and projects.
The issue is relevant to Rock County because of the planned expansion of Interstate 90/39, Assistant County Administrator Phil Boutwell has said. While federal funding is estimated to cover between 40 and 50 percent of the $1 billion project, the rest would come from the state transportation fund, Boutwell said.