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Madison: State Senator Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) lauded the passage in the Senate today of a resolution that will put to the voters a change to Wisconsin’s constitution that will prevent the raiding of the Department of Transportation Fund to pay for non-Transportation related purposes. Senator Carpenter is a lead co-author of this amendment (SRJ-4).

“I have consistently advocated for transparency and accountability in government, and am pleased at this step forward in the accountability in state budgeting. Taxpayers have been told that they are paying gas taxes and fees to support transportation programs, and the past raids – by both parties – for other budgetary purposes were simply not honest,” said Carpenter.
Senator Carpenter noted that he successfully fought to eliminate the yearly automatic increase in the gas tax in Wisconsin. “Allowing the gas tax to increase each year without a vote in the legislature was simply wrong, and it falsely allowed legislators to give the impression that they were not responsible for raising gas taxes. The fact that these gas tax revenues were then sometimes used for non-transportation purposes was not honest. These budgetary shenanigans simply reinforced the impression that elected officials were not entirely worthy of the trust given to them as elected officials,” said Carpenter.
Senator Carpenter’s fight for budgetary honesty with DOT revenue does not change significant disagreements he has with the Department of Transportation’s priorities. “Folks in my district continue to almost unanimously express their frustration that DOT projects favor new freeway construction and expansion over repairing local roads. I will continue to fight for transit priorities more in line with the needs of my constituents,” said Carpenter.

In order for a change to the constitution to become effective, it needs to pass the legislature in two consecutive sessions and then be approved by the voters in a statewide referendum. This is the second passage by the legislature, and the matter will be put on the November 2014 ballot.