As I See It
Road funding bill belongs in state budget
There are some things that belong in a state budget, and things that don’t. How to pay for roads is one thing which certainly belongs in the budget. Lawmakers are often criticized, properly, for inserting things in a budget which don’t belong there. They like to tuck their pet projects into budgets, because they are spared a separate debate, and lawmakers tend to vote the entire budget up or down. When a less popular idea is debated outside of the budget debate, its chances of passage are typically less. That is why the budget is supposed to address fiscal expenditures, rather than policy ideas. How to pay for roads is certainly a fiscal item which belongs to be included in the state budget, which lawmakers in Madison are currently debating. But they remain stuck on the issue of how to pay to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. So some lawmakers are suggesting removing the road funding bill from the budget, and debate it separately. That is not how our system is to work. By trying to remove the road debate from the budget, lawmakers are trying to give themselves more time, an admission they are not close to a solution. They would need to come up with a plan before the new state budget takes effect in July. Our elected representatives need to come up with a sustainable, long-term fix for our roads, and that should be done as part of the current budget debate.