Callahan makes appeal to use federal funds for road improvements
Bill comes on heels of Lincoln County’s failed referendum
By Tina L. Scott
WISCONSIN – As a part of the April 6 Spring Election, 56.51% of Lincoln County residents voted “no” to the county’s advisory referendum question asking whether the county should be allowed to exceed the annual tax levy limits by $700,000 per year from 2022 to 2026. The increase would have funded Highway Department operations and road maintenance.
While County residents voted “no” to paying up to $3.5 million extra on their taxes over five years to fund roads and improvements, if State Representative Calvin Callahan (R-Tomahawk) and other State legislators have their way, more than $308 million of federal funds could be shared across all 72 counties in Wisconsin over the course of two years.
Callahan, who represents the 35th Assembly District, which includes all of Lincoln County and portions of Langlade, Marathon, Oneida, and Shawano Counties, helped author legislation to provide additional road improvement aid to local governments, using $308,519,800 of the federal funds the State of Wisconsin will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.
At the public hearing on the legislation – called Assembly Bill (AB) 238 – on April 7, Callahan gave testimony in support of the Bill to the Assembly Committee on Transportation.
“One of the things that I hear from my constituents the most is about fixing the roads,” he said as part of his testimony. “Around the state, there are plenty of projects that have been put off for years because the county or municipality has lacked the funding to be able to do something about them.”
“AB 238 addresses our constituents’ concerns by using only federal funds from the American Rescue Plan over the course of the next two years to send $2 million to every county and $1,000 per mile to every city, town, and village in Wisconsin,” Callahan stated. “In addition to that, under this bill, the funds are required to be used on the roads or bridge projects, not for purchasing vehicles, plowing snow, or constructing buildings. I know these funds would be a huge benefit to folks around the state and would continue the progress towards improving our local roads made in the last state budget.”
The bill was passed in both the State Assembly and the State Senate this week. The bill was supported exclusively by Republicans, with no Democrats in either chamber voting in favor.
“This will be a huge help to folks in my district,” Callahan stated.