Lawmakers propose DOT shakeup for budget fix

Posted at 1:45 p.m. on July 13, 2017

The Brillion News

MADISON – A large coalition of Republican legislators circulated a bill for co-sponsorship which would fundamentally alter the way the state Department of Transportation (DOT) delivers, finances, and administers state highway projects.

This reform package, they said, will result in significant savings to taxpayers which they consider a must-have component of a long-term path to fund Wisconsin roads. The audit released earlier this year confirmed that the DOT suffers from years of mismanagement.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo said: “This bill will restore taxpayer confidence in an agency that has strayed from the sound fiscal and good-government principles we expect.”

“After demonstrating a poor use of taxpayer dollars, substantial reform is essential at the DOT,” said Sen.Chris Kapenga. “These reforms have been proven around the country to save significant money and deliver projects in a more efficient and effective manner. It is part of what is needed to help get the agency back on track.”

The bill introduces a design-build-finance model which is a common delivery method employed by other states to realize significant reductions in construction costs and completion times on road projects. The bill also contains structural reforms to the DOT and related agencies including: repeal of prevailing wage, “fed swap,” referendum requirements for roundabouts and local wheel tax, and an outside audit of DOT operations.

Sen Rob Hutton said: “As with most government agencies, the issue is one of spending not funding. This legislation rightly addresses several critical areas of fiscal and operational reform within the DOT.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos endorsed the idea cautiously, and said reforms alone won’t save enough money to fully fund highway projects he feels are needed.

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