My comments to the Winnebago County Board in advance of their approval of an advisory referendum in November on a State Constitutional Amendment barring the raiding of the Transportation Fund for other purposes. I've added some links to websites with more info on each factual item:
"I am here tonight to urge you to support Resolution 79--which would place an advisory referendum on the November ballot calling for a Constitutional amendment barring the Governor and the Legislator from raiding the State Transportation Fund.
"It's really kind of pathetic that we would need an amendment to protect such segregated funds--but politicians from both parties have proven that they cannot keep their hands out of the cookie jar. You may recall, Governor Thompson lost a couple of court cases after trying to raid the state employee pension fund--
and earlier this month, the State Supreme Court ruled Governor Doyle and the Legislature violated the Constitution by taking money from the Patient Compensation Fund. In all of these cases, taxpayers had to (or will have to) pay back the money taken--plus interest.
"I'm sure the raids on the Transportation Fund would also be ruled illegal if a group was willing to sue the state--like the teachers union and the State Medical Society did in the other cases. What's worse, is that we have lost 400-million dollars in the transfers out of the fund and the subsequent borrowing to actually fund the projects that we should have had the money for!
On a per capita basis, that would be another 11.6-million dollars that could have been available to Winnebago County. I'm sure that Highway Commissioner John Haase could put together a pretty good list of bridge and road projects with the money we have "lost".
"While the referendum before you is only advisory in nature, it would still allow voters to send a powerful message to lawmakers that we no longer want such budget "tricks" used to "balance" the budget--and that we want funds collected for a certain purpose to be used for only that purpose! I don't pay the 10th highest gas taxes in the nation--33-cents a gallon--so the Milwaukee School Board can spend almost seven million dollars on travel expenses.
"Again, I urge you to approve placing this referendum on the ballot in November so that we can send a message to Madison that we want fiscal responsibility in our state government again. Thank you."