State commission calls for gas tax, fees to pay for transportationGas taxes and vehicle registration fees would go up if Wisconsin adopts recommendations announced today by a commission, appointed by the state legislature, to assess the state's transportation needs.
By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Gas taxes and vehicle registration fees would go up if Wisconsin adopts recommendations announced today by a commission, appointed by the state legislature, to assess the state's transportation needs.
The bipartisan commission is calling on lawmakers and the governor to raise the state gas tax for the first time in seven years by five cents a gallon, in order to fund improvements in public transit and highway maintenance and construction. Leaders of the Republican majority have already rejected the tax increase but commission member Craig Thompson says motorists should look at the tax increase over the long term as more and more fuel efficient cars come on the market.
“If you were driving a car that got 15 miles per gallon and you were paying the 30.9 cents for each gallon you drove ... You buy a new car that gets 30 miles per gallon, you have effectively cut your gas tax in half," he said. "So [with] the five cents increase, you'd still be paying less after that increase than you were when you were driving your previous car.”
Advocates for funneling more tax dollars into public transit support the commission's recommendation to allow counties to impose a half-cent sales tax to fund expanded bus services. Jennifer Epps Addison of Wisconsin Citizen Action says that will allow cuts in bus service in Milwaukee and other communities to be restored.
“Our transit system is drastically underfunded. It is not meeting the needs of our community, and we must increase the funding," she said. "A 21st-century state requires a 21st-century public transportation system, and we can not do that without the revenue to build that system.”
Members of the Transportation commission predict it will be an uphill battle to win legislative approval of any tax increases, but they say that without it, the state's transportation infrastrucure will continue to crumble.
The full commission report is available online at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/about/tfp/docs/keep-wi-moving-report.pdf