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Voters asked about banning raids on transportation

The question is "Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to prohibit any further transfers or lapses from the state's segregated transportation fund?"

Voters in Pierce, St. Croix and 51 other counties will be asked to vote next Tuesday on an advisory referendum suggesting Wisconsin make it unconstitutional to use its transportation fund for other purposes.

Money in the fund comes from the gas tax consumers pay at the pump and from vehicle registration fees. Taxpayers expect this money will be used to make their roads safer, yet in less than a decade the state has diverted more than $1.3 billion to pay for other things, say referendum supporters.

Lack of funding is causing counties to fall farther and farther behind on road repair projects, jeopardizing the safety of highways and multiplying the cost for the future, said St. Croix County Highway Commissioner Tim Ramberg and Pierce County Highway Commissioner Chad Johnson.

"If the money continues to be diverted, then there's less for transportation," said Johnson, who urged the county board to put the issue to voters.

"Every year, we should be reconstructing five miles of road because a road bed lasts 50 years," he said. "We're hardly touching that."

"You don't know it unless you're right out in it," said Ramberg, who has worked for the highway department for 21 years. He compared regular repaving to re-shingling a house and chip sealing to changing oil in a car. Delaying that maintenance is a mistake, he said.

For more please read the Oct. 26 print version of the Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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