When historians look back at the crafting of the 2009-11 biennial budget, one motion will go down as perhaps the most representative amendment adopted by the Joint Finance Committee. At roughly 11:30 at night, the committee passed their omnibus transportation motion, which will one day go on the Mount Rushmore of bad legislation.
The motion contains 28 items, known only to the motion’s drafters until it was handed out late on Thursday evening. None of the provisions in the motion were known during the public hearing process, and not a single one can plausibly be linked to closing the state’s budget deficit. In fact, many of the pork items, intended to avoid public scrutiny, spend more money in districts represented exclusively by Democrats.
If you read the motion itself, you will find items like:
Requiring a report on how to build high speed passenger rail between Madison and Minneapolis, with stops in Eau Claire and LaCrosse.
$430,000 for County Trunk Highway X in Chippewa County. (Represented by Democratic Senator Pat Krietlow)
$1.25 million for the reconstruction of Manitowoc Road in the Village of Bellevue. (Represented by Democratic Senator Dave Hansen, who served on the Joint Finance Committee.)
$900,000 for various “transportation enhancements” for the City of Racine. (Represented by Democratic Senator John Lehman and Democratic Assemblyman Cory Mason, both of whom serve on the Joint Finance Committee.)
$250,000 for the Town of La Prairie for a bridge replacement. (Represented by Democratic Senator Judy Robson, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
$100,000 again for the Village of Bellevue for a “beautification project.” (Represented by Democratic Senator Dave Hansen, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
$20,000 for the Village of Footville in Rock County for a pedestrian path. (Represented by Democratic Senator Judy Robson, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
Allowing delivery trucks to exceed allowable weight restrictions, as long as they are driving to or from A) A distribution center or warehouse in Kenosha County, or B) a manufacturing plant or warehouse in Racine County. (Represented by Democratic Senator John Lehman, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee, and Democratic Senator Bob Wirch.)
Requiring DOT to construct a new I-90/94/39 interchange in Dane County (Represented by Democratic Senator Mark Miller and Democratic Assemblyman Mark Pocan, who together co-chair the Joint Finance Committee.)
Requiring DOT to conduct a Highway 12 reconstruction study for the stretch leading to Whitewater (Represented by Democratic State Senator Judy Robson, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
Requiring DOT to conduct an environmental study for reconstruction of Highway 13 in Marshfield. (Represented by Democratic State Senator Julie Lassa, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
Requiring DOT to conduct an environmental assessment on the Wood County Bridge. (Represented by Democratic State Senator Julie Lassa, who serves on the Joint Finance Committee.)
Rename the stretch of highway between Highway 8 and Highway 53 in Barron County the “Donald Schneider” highway, after the former Senate Chief Clerk.
You get the idea. And that’s just for starters – the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed some of the pork projects passed earlier in the evening here. After the early round of voting, one thing is clear – don’t expect to see your roads fixed if you live in a district represented by a Republican.
Oh, and for good measure, they threw in giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and reducing the amount of time a driver’s license can be suspended for failing to pay a forfeiture, for good measure. Neither of which has had a public hearing.
In the early rounds of the “debate” on Thursday night, Democrats urged quick passage of all their motions, saying we “need to get around to the business of fixing the budget.” Ten bucks to any member of Joint Finance that can explain to us how any of the provisions rammed through in Motion 615 closes the budget gap by one cent. Instead, they appear to be “stimulating” their own chances of re-election.