Scott Walker’s Infrastructure Investment Fail

Posted January 15th, 2013 @ 7:48 PM by

Tonight, Scott Walker said this about infrastructure during his State of the State address:

Tourism is one of the many industries that benefit from a strong infrastructure system. We need to continue to invest in it to keep people working in Wisconsin.

With this in mind, I am committed to a healthy transportation system that includes roads, bridges, freight rail, ports, and airports. Whether it is traveling to a tourism destination or taking product to and from market, so many of our key industries—manufacturing, dairy products, timber and paper products, cranberries, vegetables, grain, sand—and soon, iron ore mining; so many of these industries depend on our strong transportation backbone.

They need it to keep their competitive edge. The MillerCoors Brewery in Milwaukee is a good example. The plant manager told us that MillerCoors is in a hyper-competitive industry. Every day, they are looking to find any competitive advantage to see who can get a cold beer on a bar in Madison, Green Bay, or even Chicago the fastest. If beer trucks are tied up in the Zoo Interchange, the MillerCoors Brewery here in Wisconsin is at a disadvantage.

In a similar way, a dairy farmer from Independence or a lumber company from Antigo or a crop farmer from Dodgeville or a dock worker from Superior all have a competitive advantage, if we have a good transportation system. That’s why I am committed to improving our infrastructure.

The Governor provides the perfect example of why we need to dig deeper and do our homework to justify more highway improvements. While it is true that MillerCoors may realize a competitive advantage in Chicago by minimizing shipping delays through the Zoo interchange, that benefit is not limited to MillerCoors. Competitors to MillerCoors will find it cheaper to ship their product from Chicago to Milwaukee.

This same phenomena applies to all the industries in Wisconsin that Scott Walker said would benefit from an increase in transportation spending, including tourism. In 1950 there were so few good highways that huge new markets were created by the investment in highways. Today, the average net return on highway  investment has dropped below the return of leaving the money in the private sector. We need to be diligent to ensure our transportation dollars are spent on projects that truly provide a net benefit to the state.

That means digging deeper with our research than simply looking at the direct benefits to businesses or municipalities asking for an improvement. We need a redefined comprehensive analysis process that helps our elected officials make the best investments for the future of Wisconsin’s economy.

Categories: | Economic Development | Media | Transportation | Wisconsin | Wisconsin Governor

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