Gas tax, driver's fee increases recommended
MADISON A bipartisan task force's recommendations to raise a variety of Wisconsin's driving-related taxes and fees to pay for transportation upgrades ran into a dead end Wednesday — Republican leaders in the state Assembly.
The recommendations, which include a gas tax increase and a new mileage-based registration fee, would generate nearly $4.8 billion over 10 years to pay for road, bridge, airport, bicycle and other transportation-related projects. The average driver would pay $120 more a year.
Not so fast, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Suder, both Republicans, in a joint statement. They said the gas tax increase and new registration fee would not pass the GOP-controlled Assembly.
"Raising taxes will only serve to damage our recovering economy," Suder said. "Any increase in the state gas tax is simply off the table."
Gov. Scott Walker has also come out against raising the gas tax. His spokesman said Walker had not taken a position on the report, but his own plan for transportation spending would be released in his budget on Feb. 20. Walker has signaled he was looking at using general fund tax money to help pay for transportation needs.
Doing nothing will result in serious deterioration of the state's highways, increased urban congestion and reduced service levels for public transit, the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission said in its report. The commission was created by the Legislature and Walker in 2011 to study the state's transportation system needs and how to fund those.
Members of the task force, including Walker's appointed head of the state Department of Transportation, urged the Legislature to take a serious look at its proposal that relies on higher taxes and fees.