Vote “No” On the Constitutional Amendment to Isolate Transportation Funds – It Is a Bad Idea!

  • Constitution

Vote “No” On the Constitutional Amendment

to Isolate Transportation Funds

It is a Bad Idea!

It is poor public policy to use constitutional amendments to isolate tax revenues for special interests’ benefit. Changing the state’s constitution is no small thing.   States, municipalities, school districts, etc., create budgets to cover our local and state community needs. Our needs change all the time. Sometimes, disasters strike – homes and businesses are damaged and need immediate repair, people are injured and need extensive medical services, water mains break and flooding occurs, bridges collapse and have to be replaced – the list goes on and one, but one thing stands out: Disasters don’t occur on a scheduled basis and our governments must be able to adjust their resources to handle situations as they arise.

The proposed amendment to Wisconsin’s Constitution could leave us high and dry and unable to protect ourselves.

Our lawmakers need budget flexibility. Budgets are a guide describing how we think we will spend our money. Budgets have never been intended to hamstring our government officials so they can’t meet our community’s needs. Such restrictions would be pure foolishness. It would be as idiotic as a non-swimmer handcuffing himself to a sinking boat so he wouldn’t fall out.

Senator Petrowski Claims Ownership of This Amendment.

During Wisconsin Public Radio’s debate for the candidates in Wisconsin’s Senate District 29, Senator Jerry Petrowski proudly claimed authorship of the proposed Constitutional Amendment limiting revenues from our state’s transportation system to only transportation purposes.1 Maybe he did write it, but his amendment looks a lot like the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model language designed to protect corporate special interests.2 Compare the two:

On the November 4 ballot (State referendum)

Question 1:  “Creation of a Transportation Fund.  Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VIII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin’s transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?”

ALEC Model Legislation


 “Constitutional Amendment Restricting the Use of Vehicle Fees and Taxes for Highway Purposes”

New Section: All fees collected by the State of ________ as license fees for motor vehicles and all excise taxes collected by the State of ________ on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel, and any another motor vehicle related tax or fee shall be paid into the state treasury and placed in a special fund to be used exclusively for highway purposes….”

ALEC is a bill writing organization funded by large corporations. They draft legislation (model bills) for local politicians to submit in their home states. Their overriding goal is to advance an ultra-conservative political agenda while giving their corporate members legislative protection and benefits that increase their corporate bottom line. Look at the sponsors [page 2] of the “Vote Yes For Transportation” web site. It’s obvious that there is a pattern of corporate special interest behind this polished material. The group’s claim that many other states have amended their constitutions in a similar way is more of a testimony to the effectiveness of ALEC’s political strategy, than it is a commentary on the wisdom of restricting the budget flexibility of our elected representatives. It’s the same as us telling our parents, “…but everybody is doing….” It didn’t work at our house; we shouldn’t let it work in Wisconsin.

Vote “No” on November’s Ballot Question 1:

“Creation of a Transportation Fund….”


Tell as many friends as you can about the importance of voting “no” on the “Creation of a Transportation Fund…” Tuesday, November 4th.   If you voted early, but did not know about the ALEC connection to Petrowski’s amendment, you can still spread the word to your family, friends and neighbors who have not voted. It’s not too late to stop ALEC’s agenda in Wisconsin.

  1. Senate District 29 Debate, Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – Wisconsin Public Radio
  2. Wisconsin’s ALEC politicians – Petrowski is not included on this list, but many of his colleagues are.