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As I See It

An idea for paying for roads



What is the solution to solving Wisconsin’s road crisis? That continues to have our politicians scratching their heads. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s infrastructure, already rated among the worst in the nation, continues to get worse. Our elected officials in Madison have been unable or unwilling to come up with a long-term, sustainable way to pay to fix our pothole-filled roads. In recent years, they have chosen to put off many road repairs, and those which have been fixed have been put on the credit card for future generations to pay off. One possible solution, being championed by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, would be a user-based system, with people paying for roadwork based on how many miles they drive. It is not a radical idea. We pay for electricity, natural gas and water based on how much we use. In Illinois, I-Pass users are essentially paying based on how far they travel. Under the current system, gas taxes are the primary source of revenue for road repair, but that fund has dwindled as the state’s gas tax is no longer indexed for inflation. Meanwhile, millenials are driving less, and we are driving more fuel efficient vehicles. And because politicians have chosen to borrow to pay for road work in recent years, more and more of the gas tax is going to fund debt service rather than filling potholes. This idea of a user based system may not be the ideal solution to paying to fix our roads, but it is a solution. Which is more than the politicians have come up with so far.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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