Sen. Cowles: Governor’s Signature Paves the Way for Highway Project Accountability

Contact: Sen. Robert Cowles: (920) 448-5092//(608) 266-0484

MADISON– Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, issued the following statement after 2017 Senate Bill 85 was signed into law:

“In early 2017, the Audit Bureau released a devastating evaluation of the DOT’s State Highway Program. The audit revealed an unacceptable trend of under-estimating the cost of major highway projects during enumeration, and this legislation provided a roadmap to ensure this recklessness doesn’t happen again. I encouraged the Senate to take prompt action, and these recommendations were passed through the Legislature.

Senate Bill 85 reflects four recommendations from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s Report 17-2 on the State Highway Program into legislation. The bill requires the Department of Transportation to: include all associated costs with major highway projects in enumeration; include the cost estimate at enumeration in its semiannual reports; regularly report information on the ongoing costs to the legislature, and; require consideration of a cost-benefit analysis before undertaking a proposed major highway project.

“This bill becoming law is an important step forward to help us make intelligent decisions on highway spending. With the signing of Senate Bill 85 into law, we have now enacted enhanced oversight and transparency in our major highway project design, construction, and costs. Today’s signature proves that my colleagues and I in the State Capitol are serious about ensuring accountability in transportation projects for the taxpayers of Wisconsin. I’m pleased I was able to see this bill to fruition.”

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