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Governor's budget addresses transportation needs in balanced way

By Emmer Shields, Jr.

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Is the Governor's proposed transportation budget balanced or unbalanced? A recent editorial by the Journal Sentinel cited various groups that saw the budget as unbalanced. The Journal Sentinel sided with those groups and recommended a cutting of the budget and reallocation of funds. A follow-up opinion by Mr. Dan Cunningham supported the Governor's budget and its goals.

The Wisconsin County Highway Association represents county officials that are responsible for the improvement and maintenance of the 19,000 mile County Trunk Highway system and maintenance of the 12,000 mile State Trunk Highway System. Our organization sides with Mr. Cunningham in supporting the Governor's budget and believes the transportation budget is as balanced as it can be, given the constraints of transportation funding in Wisconsin.

In this budget cycle, as is the case with every budget cycle, there are groups that come forward with a better way of dividing the transportation budget. Usually, this revolves around the promotion of "their" geographical area or "their" personal transportation priorities. Our organization has a "County" perspective, which would like to see more General Transportation Aids and Local Road Improvement Program funding for counties, but we are also an organization that has a statewide perspective and understanding of the transportation system.

We support the Governor's budget, because it does address the transportation needs of the state in a balanced way. We also support the budget, because it invests in preservation of the State Highway system. The Governor's proposal to increase funding of State Highway maintenance by $50 million, will improve service to the public, and will improve the longevity of the State Highway system. It is clear that the Governor's administration understands that there must be a balance between preservation and improvement.

There is no shortage of transportation needs in the State of Wisconsin. There is a shortage of funding for those needs. As both the Journal Sentinel and Mr. Cunningham point out, additional funding must be found for transportation. With this we are in agreement. We strongly believe that increased funding must be found by the next budget cycle, if we are going to sustain our transportation system. Until that can be accomplished the Governor's budget represents a balanced effort to keep our transportation system moving forward and insuring that Wisconsin's economy will have the infrastructure it needs to support it.

-- Shields is Ashland County highway commissioner and secretary of the Wisconsin County Highway Association.

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