State ranks 47th in road quality, but Walker refuses to act

Rep. Mark Spreitzer

Making the necessary investments in Wisconsin roads and transportation infrastructure is a no-brainer for Wisconsin residents. Keeping our economy moving and making sure that goods can get to market is about as pro-business and pro-worker as one can get. Good leaders recognize that.

But these days, moving forward on common sense transportation solutions is like wading through wet cement. Wisconsin is bogged down by Gov. Scott Walker, an entrenched ideologue who equates doing nothing with being principled.

Wisconsin currently ranks 47th in road quality, and earlier this month Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb gave up trying to fix that. Gottlieb waived the white flag, stating he would no longer seek any increase in transportation revenue in his next budget proposal because he knows the governor won’t budge.

Now the governor has doubled down, refusing to consider available options and explicitly prohibiting his transportation department from proposing any new sources of revenue. Acting like a stick-in-the-concrete is not leadership. As Wisconsin roads crumble, we need real leadership and we need to make tough decisions.

Nothing demonstrates a lack of leadership better than a lack of followers. Few Wisconsin legislators, including his fellow Republicans, agree with the governor’s political obstruction to maintain Wisconsin roads nor his fanatical opposition to reasonable policy. In fact, both Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke have openly opposed Walker’s stance on transportation funding, and both have called for new revenue.

Rather than working with the Legislature to ensure sustainable transportation funding, Walker insists that doing nothing — and being proud of it — is the only way forward.

This approach couldn’t be more wrong. Avoiding the responsibility to fund maintenance for Wisconsin roads costs motorists $6 billion a year. More importantly, refusing to fund the costs of infrastructure repair could end up costing Wisconsinites their lives: There are 1,970 bridges in Wisconsin that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

When it comes to the dilapidated condition of Wisconsin roads, we know what the problem is and how to fix it. We need leadership. Refusing to properly fund our infrastructure is not leadership. It’s negligence.

My fellow Democrats and I stand ready to solve Wisconsin’s transportation problems. We stand ready to lead.

Mark Spreitzer represents the 45th Assembly District.