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Walker floats idea of sales tax on gas

Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio Just three weeks before the election, Gov. Scott Walker is floating the idea of creating a new sales tax on gas in order to eliminate the state's fuel tax. Walker raised the idea during a pair of newspaper ed...

Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

Just three weeks before the election, Gov. Scott Walker is floating the idea of creating a new sales tax on gas in order to eliminate the state's fuel tax.

Walker raised the idea during a pair of newspaper editorial board meetings this week, including on Tuesday at the offices of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker said it’s a challenge paying for roads with the state’s gas tax because it’s charged per gallon, and people are driving less.

“So in place of basing it on gallons purchased, you base it on the price of the gas purchased. It still would be a segregated fee. It wouldn't be a new sales tax or a different sales tax than what we have at the state level. It would be specific to gas,” said Walker.

The swap would not be an easy one to make. The current gas tax generates roughly a billion dollars a year in revenue. A commission appointed by Walker found that applying the current sales tax rate to gasoline would generate only about half as much, meaning that to match up, the rate would have to be doubled.

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When asked about Walker’s plan, Democratic challenger Mary Burke said she didn't think it would solve the problem.

“It doesn’t actually address the huge shortfall that we’re facing in the transportation fund, and in fact, it could present additional issues because the price of gas can fluctuate so dramatically that it could leave huge shifts in the amount of revenue that comes in,” said Burke.

The governor's transportation commission recommended several ideas for generating new revenue to pay for roads, but the proposal being floated by Walker this week was not among them. 

More WPR news is available on KUWS-FM 91.3 or online at www.wpr.org .

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
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