Vos should take lead on highways

Sustainable transportation plan will not come out of governor’s office.

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NEWS OUT OF MADISON this week has suggested thereís plenty of daylight between Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on the subject of funding Wisconsinís transportation needs.

Good.

On this issue Walker has been wrong for six years, just like Gov. Jim Doyle was wrong before him. It is penny wise and pound foolish to allow Wisconsinís crucial infrastructure to deteriorate. Authoritative studies suggest thatís exactly what has been happening for years. While Wisconsin used to draw high marks for the quality of its roads and highways it has been slipping steadily and now ranks nearer the bottom.

The economy, from manufacturing to tourism, moves on the strength of a stateís infrastructure. The cost of continuing willful inattention may be high.

SINCE TAKING OFFICE the governor has commissioned various reports on strategies to deal with the issue. Every time the recommendation has included options for increasing revenues. And every time the governor has thrown the reports in the trash without serious consideration.

Instead, he has delayed work and borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to fund projects.

That keeps his no-tax-increase pledge intact, but it does not keep roads and bridges intact. And, as every homeowner or vehicle owner knows, borrowing and paying interest just raises costs long-term.

Itís certainly no secret the governor still harbors national ambitions. Rejecting all revenue-side options may play well, some day, in future primary elections. But it leaves Wisconsin sliding toward the bottom with its infrastructure.

SO ON THIS ONE, Speaker Vos has the better argument. So far he has not introduced details of any plan heís behind, but his rhetoric leaves no doubt he wants the Assembly to craft a solution.

It appears leadership on transportation will have to come from the legislature. It may even be possible thatís what Walker quietly wants, so he can reluctantly go along ó his hand forced by a rebellious legislative majority.

Whatever. Politics always rears its head.

Even if itís no-deal with Walker, though, adopting a sustainable transportation plan has the potential to get done as a bipartisan success. Democrats like infrastructure projects and want good roads, too. Striking a sensible deal with the minority party to line up the necessary votes might chafe the hard-liners, but itís do-able.

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