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As I See It

Wisconsin shouldn’t fill potholes with lottery windfall

Scott Robert Shaw



One Wisconsin lawmaker has a unique idea for fixing our roads. Dump lottery proceeds into the potholes. Senator Tim Carpenter plans to introduce a bill to use Wisconsin’s cut of a recent lottery jackpot to pay for road work. A man from West Allis won a $768 million Powerball jackpot. That win is a jackpot for the state, which will collect $36 million in income tax from the lottery winner’s fortune. Under current law, that pile of money goes into the state’s general fund, not any particular project. But Carpenter wants to draft legislation allowing the state to use that $36 million to fill potholes. It is a clever idea, but does it make sense? We all agree our roads are in bad shape and need fixing, but the $36 million, as much money as it is, won’t fix all our roads. In fact, that is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall transportation budget. It may be enough to fill a couple potholes in each Wisconsin county. And if the money is set aside specifically for potholes, that means it can’t be spent on other things, like education or cancer research. If we were to spend the money on just one thing, can we really say filling potholes is the best use of that money? This money is an unexpected windfall, and it may be tempting to use it for one purpose, but it seems this lawmaker’s idea is not a winner.

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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