Assembly budget plan affects roads and drivers
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio , Superior Telegram
Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly made several changes to the state budget last week before they passed it early Saturday morning (6/13). But they held onto provisions that would affect who can get a license in Wisconsin, what they'll pay for insurance, and the roads that they'll drive on.
The budget that's now before the state Senate still includes a plan that would let undocumented immigrants get drivers' cards in Wisconsin. They could not be used as a kind of federal ID.
Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Pedro Colon says these people are going to drive one way or another. But without some way to get a legal ID, they'll drive unsafely and make police officers' jobs tougher. Colon says Wisconsin can either have people who don’t understand how to drive and continue to have “awful accidents”, or it can have people who identify themselves correctly and clearly so that police can stop them.
Democrats also held onto another plan that would increase the amount of minimum automobile coverage people are required to buy, and likely drive up insurance premiums. Some of those minimums have not been touched since the early 1980s, and trial lawyers argue they haven't kept pace with the growing cost of accidents.
Marinette Republican John Nygren – who’s an insurance agent -- tried unsuccessfully to get the provision pulled from the budget in the Assembly. He called it an increase to low-income and middle-class constituents, which neither can afford at this time.
To pay for roads, Assembly Democrats also kept a tax on oil companies in the budget, but without a provision that would have prohibited oil companies from passing on the cost of the tax to consumers. The fear was that this particular part of the tax would ensnare the state in a costly legal battle that it would probably lose. It means gas prices could go up as much as $.04 per gallon.