• WisBusiness

Finding Forward: Broad-based coalition calls for constitutional protection of transportation fund

CONTACT: Craig Thompson, TDA Executive Director
(608) 256-7044; Craig.Thompson@tdawisconsin.org

MADISON – Speakers representing a broad-based coalition of county and municipal government, private businesses, organized labor, non-profit associations, regional planning interests, housing organizations and other groups held a news conference at 10 a.m. today at the state capitol to call for constitutional protection of the state’s transportation fund.

The coalition, called Finding Forward, supports amending the Wisconsin constitution to require that money in the state’s transportation fund be spent only for transportation purposes. As a first step in that process, Finding Forward supports placing an advisory referendum question on this November’s election ballot so that voters can weigh in on whether the transportation fund should be specifically protected from being used to fill gaps in the state’s general fund budget or for any other non-transportation use.

Craig Thompson, executive director of the non-profit Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, a coalition member, spoke at the news conference. “Transferring segregated transportation funds should not be viewed as a tool to manage through tough times. It is a trap that makes the tough times worse and the recovery longer. The evidence is clear,” he said.

Terry McGowan, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, also spoke at the conference and said that past transfers from the transportation fund have had “a direct impact on the ability of the 9,000 men and women of the operating engineers to make a living, pay their bills, and make purchases right here in Wisconsin.”

Allison Bussler, director of public works for Waukesha County, spoke in support of the advisory referendum and noted that her county’s board had already voted unanimously to join several additional counties in placing the question on the fall ballot. Wisconsin, she said, “has failed to invest in a timely manner in vital infrastructure like the Zoo Interchange, mass transit and aviation.” Further, Bussler said, the past practice of using general obligation bonds to repay portions of the borrowed transportation funding has hurt the state’s bond rating and the debt service on these bonds hinders its ability to fund important county programs such as youth aids, community aids and courts.

Thompson said he was heartened by Finding Forward’s desire to engage the public in a positive initiative to help Wisconsin move forward out of its budget rut. “More than half of the states in the country already have a constitutional protection for their transportation funds,” he said. “I’m just really impressed with the breadth of this coalition. These groups have many different interests but are united on this important issue. This coalition is not interested in assessing blame for how we arrived at the current situation. We just want to find a way forward.”

Finding Forward coalition members include:


AAA – Wisconsin

Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin (APW)

American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin (ACEC)

American Petroleum Institute (API)

Construction Business Group (CBG)

East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

Forward Janesville, Inc.

Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC)

Midwest Food Processors Association (MWFPA)

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA)

Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association (WATDA)

Wisconsin Automotive Aftermarket Association (WAAA)

Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association (WAPA)

Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association (WCPA)

Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA)

Wisconsin Earth Movers Association (WEMA)

Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA)

Wisconsin Grocers Association (WGA)

Wisconsin Housing Alliance

Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC)

Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association (WMCA)

Wisconsin Petroleum Council

Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (WPMCA)

Wisconsin Restaurant Association (WRA)

Wisconsin Retail Council (WRC)

Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA)

Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association (WTBA)

Wisconsin Urban & Rural Transit Association (WURTA)


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