Area Assembly Democrats and key members of the state's transportation swamp recently hosted a "listening session" on Wisconsin roads. Way to go local Democrats!! You're really on a roll. LOL.
According to the report in the Janesville Gazette, the group or groups were unanimous about one thing: Raising taxes to fix failing roads and infrastructure. "Just tax it!" seems to be their motto. Even more notable was the meeting's focus of the state's road funding crisis. The crisis appears to be strictly "local."
Besides raising taxes and fees on wage-depressed taxpayers, the swamp monsters drifted from the importance of paying road laborers prevailing wages to building new railroads to help lessen the cost and interval of road maintenance. I guess that would make it a "roundtable" discussion.
From the Gazette's article, it's also clear that lobbyists and their media enablers are in full control of the narrative. It's like local politicians did not learn a thing over the past six years or from Trump's election win.
With that out of the way, the most glaring statement (to me) from the Gazette's story comes at the very end when they include Forward Janesville's two cents from the meeting.
Dan Cunningham, Forward Janesville's vice president of government relations and education, said local economies are reliant on solid infrastructure. He and others expressed concern that some municipalities have considered reverting to gravel roads.
“There's got to be a way to just get to 'yes' in Madison,” he said.
Here's the problem.
Back in 2010 and again in 2012 during the recall election, Cunningham couldn't care less about local roads when he penned the editorial titled, Don't shift road money to repair local streets.
Back then, Forward Janesville and state road lobbies railed hard against Barrett's campaign for governor at the time simply because he wanted the state to spend within its means and keep the promise to rural and urban communities for existing road repair and rehabilitation funds. Of added note is the fact that Janesville city officials, in all their supposed fiduciary duty, responsibility and concern for city street maintenance, ENDORSED Forward Janesville's legislative agenda. Imagine that.
The underlying idea of Barrett's campaign was this: If you want new structures where there are none and interstate expansions, that's fine. But we'll have to find new ways and means to pay for it first. Unfortunately, as Barrett was described as a threat to the expansion lobby goals, there was no response from democrats to win the road funding debate.
Of course the main problem was and still is; it was never about shifting road money TO local streets. It WAS the local's money to lose and locals lost it bigly because nobody showed up to defend local roads ...except Tom Barrett.
Instead, interstate expansion lobbyists showed up and with the help of a few gullible politicians ...they shifted money FROM local, rural and urban roads by tinkering with state aid formulas, sources and priorities to pay for their new infrastructure and expansions.
Remember, the transportation lobbies and their tools in the state legislature DID NOT raise one new dime in fees or taxes to pay for their new expensive projects.
THAT is key to this debate. Yet, all of THEIR projects remain "on track" while voiceless lobby-less locals enact new wheel taxes to replace the lost revenue, make cuts elsewhere or contemplate gravel roads.
It couldn't be more simpler than that. The swamp monster road lobbies CREATED the state's zero sum transportation funding game and in their deceptive efforts to win local support they lament, "well, it shouldn't be a "this or that" decision to fund roads," let's all get Madison to say "Yes, just tax it."
The two-faced duality and bold-faced audacity of these folks is mind-boggling.
Democrats on the other hand, have received gift after gift after gift after gift from Scott Walker and state republicans on road funding, public schools, lobbyist access, voting deforms, the dark store assessment problem, open records, the Milwaukee Bucks stadium and overall tax policy, and never answer back to win the hearts and minds of voters. Instead, they enlist the same people who created the problems - to solve them.
Democrats, for whatever their reasons, cannot seem to stray from the conventional political algorithms establishment lobbyists deliver and demand.
They are like deer in the headlights boxed in at a dead end. Every day.