Finding Forward worked with county boards across the state in the fall of 2010 to give voters a say on a very specific public policy issue - protecting the state's transportation fund. Fifty-four Wisconsin counties placed an advisory referendum on the ballot asking: "Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to prohibit any further transfers or lapses from the segregated transportation fund?"
Wisconsinites could not have been any clearer. The answer was "YES". In fact, the referendum passed in all 54 counties by an average margin in excess of 70 percent.
The Wisconsin Legislature responded to this public mandate by passing "first consideration" of a proposed constitutional amendment in 2011. The landslide vote of 82-11 in the Assembly and 26-6 in the Senate demonstrated that this is truly a bipartisan issue.
The Finding Forward coalition was formed when local governments, private businesses, organized labor, transportation associations, regional planning interests, housing organizations and many other groups decided that action needed to be taken to protect Wisconsin's transportation fund and the integrity of the budget process.
This coalition is not interested in revisiting past battles or assessing blame for how Wisconsin fell into the pattern of structural deficits and onetime budget fixes. Instead, the goal of the coalition is to ensure this destructive practice never happens again. Amending the constitution is the best way to accomplish this goal.
Achieving a constitutional change is a long, complicated process. Thanks to the legislators in the previous session, we are a third of the way there. Finding Forward is committed to work for passage of "second consideration" in this two-year legislative session and then to secure a positive vote from the public.
Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, explains why Wisconsin is included in the November 2009 Pew study, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril.
"Our report states that California's budget problems are in a league of their own. But Wisconsin has had persistent budget shortfalls -- the state has had a negative general fund balance from fiscal years 2002 to 2008, according to its own Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports. Additionally, Wisconsin has used short-term fixes to meet budget challenges, such as relying on its transportation funds to cover day-to-day operating expenses.”
According to the report, California and nine other states – Wisconsin, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Florida – were particularly affected by the recession.
Counties shaded in light blue passed the transportation advisory referendum in November 2010.
Copyright ©2013 Finding Forward Coalition All rights reserved. Website development by wisnet.com LLC