Another pothole for road funds

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Refusing to address a problem will not make it go away.

AFTER MONTHS - ACTUALLY, YEARS - of batting around in Madison the need for a long-term plan to adequately fund highway needs the net result is, again, a legislative punt.

Earlier in the year it looked as if a serious solution might be forthcoming. Gov. Scott Walker proposed more borrowing, delaying ongoing projects and no new revenue but key legislators - notably, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos - rebelled and signaled a willingness to come up with their own plan. Everything appeared to be on the table, from adjusting fuel taxes to raising registration fees to tolling to assessing higher costs for heavy trucks.

But in the end, this deal looks a lot like past deals. The do-nothing crowd wins again.

THE PROBLEM WON'T suddenly go away. Borrowing excessively raises costs to pay the interest. The significant delays in major road projects, particularly big ones in the Milwaukee area, also will raise costs to taxpayers in the long run. And when it's all added up things will stand exactly where they stand today, with insufficient revenues being generated to meet ongoing needs.

So Wisconsin's once enviable roads and highways will continue to deteriorate.

But politicians who just want to say "no tax increases" can stick to that script.

So, try again when the next two-year budget cycle rolls around. Meanwhile, get used to worsening roads.

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