The former top road lobbyist has been the secretary-designee of transportation since 2019
Thompson sought to hike gas tax in last budget – which would benefit his former members
March 9, 2021 | By Bill Osmulski
Gov. Tony Evers’ pick for transportation secretary will get another look by the state senate on Wednesday.
Craig Thompson has been the secretary-designee for the Department of Transportation for over two years. Before that he was the top road lobbyist in the state – a conflict of interest that’s difficult to ignore.
When Thompson took over the DOT, he was on a mission to raise taxes and fees. He and Gov. Evers organized a “Transportation Stakeholder Task Force.” The meetings were well-attended by lobbyists and local government officials eager to help Thompson with his agenda. As one task force member presented a recommendation, “We started, obviously, with a gas tax increase.”
Thompson advocated for that and other revenue raisers during the 2019-21 state budget debate. One minute he was claiming road builders face a labor shortage while defending a return of prevailing wage. The next minute he claimed the labor shortage would not affect the road builders’ ability to take on more projects if he had more funding. Sen. Marklein called out this contradiction during the agency briefings.
Early in his tenure, MacIver News reported how Thompson was approving far more single-bid contracts than his predecessor. This is significant because less competition always leads to higher prices.
After the 2019-21 state budget passed and it did not include a gas tax increase, Thompson said he would keep pushing for it in the future.
The Senate Committee on Transportation and Local Government will consider Thompson’s nomination at 1:30 pm on Wednesday.