Wisconsin continues to debate how to increase funds for transportation (in Wisconsin that translates to build more freeways) as gas tax revenues continue to fall as cars get more fuel efficient or don’t use gasoline at all. Instead the governor continues to put highway construction on the credit card or extends the completion dates for major projects (which increases their costs through inflation and often overlooked, loss of utility and increased travel times for users) to balance the transportation budget.

There have been a number of discussions in the legislature around increasing the gasoline tax, vehicle registration and just recently, converting state freeways into toll roads.

Of course Governor Walker continues to stick to his no tax increase pledge by threatening to veto any gas tax increases if they aren’t balanced by tax cuts in other areas. This brings up a number of points. If gas increases are balanced against other tax cuts, those paying increased gas taxes aren’t necessarily the people getting the new offsetting tax cuts. I can’t imagine that will make drivers very happy.

And second, how is reducing other taxes to balance gas tax increases not essentially the same as using general funds to pay for transportation? And isn’t using general funds for transportation now verboten? I am sure many of you can either correct me on that or support my statement.

So about those toll roads…that is a very very slippery slope. Somebody is going to have to spend the initial capital to build the infrastructure to measure and collect tolls. Where’s that money going to come from? Wisconsin already doesn’t have the funds to fix the roads, build new ones, etc….how can it add tolling facilities? (this all assumes the federal government would permit the conversion of freeways to tollways…not unlikely under the President Trump regime)

But the talk is that private investors would pay for the new infrastructure…and then reap benefits from the tolling. And how many years would it take to implement? If we look at the Zoo interchange, years maybe decades. Hmmmm. Who controls the fees and determines the profit margins when private enterprise controls public utilities?

But if you are going to be ‘Open For Business’, you had better have first rate infrastructure, not just a low tax rate…businesses need to get their employees to work on time, need to get their raw materials to their businesses, and need to get their finished products to market. Subpar streets, roads and highways don’t work for them.

So for the quick and dirty, the current Wisconsin gas tax is 30.9 cents a gallon. Take a quick 5.1 cent increase and gas tax revenue jumps 16.5% and takes a lot of stress off of the transportation budget. Increase it 10.1 cents and it’s an increase of 32.7%. When I first suggested this gas in Milwaukee was around $2.00 a gallon and even now at $2.29, a 5 or 10 cent hike isn’t going to be that discernable.

You want some simple background into the issue, please read Ernst-Ulrich Franzen’s article on the resignation of the Secretary Mark Gottlieb from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation…he apparently got tired of speaking truth to power.

11 Responses to So Raise The Damn Gas Tax All Ready!

  1. GuyFromWI says:

    They’re too cowardly to pass a five or ten cent gas tax increase, but they seem to be moving toward spending hundreds of millions on tolls? Makes perfect sense, given Scott Walker’s apparent economic prowess…like the state of his personal finances, and how he still owes thousands in presidential campaign debt.

  2. Nemo says:

    No, they should not raise the gas tax, registration fees, or introduce tolls. The Republicans can either keep stated or implied promises and find another way (full repeal of prevailing wage?) or be forever labeled as just another employee in the road builders account receivables department.

    • nonquixote says:

      Evident again with the your complete lack of creative thought in suggesting to further pick the pockets of US labor as a solution, when the GOP could rescind the tax cuts that brought about the Walker era, $5.2 B “tax savings,” they claim Wisconsinites have benefited from, and quit things like dairy expansion tax credits and direct payments to that investor/owner class that don’t trickle down to the slave labor, immigrant labor class upon which the WI dairy industry relies and for which the rest of the WI taxpayers support through public social service costs in food, shelter, health care and special education assistance.

      In GOP double-speak, rescinding prior tax cuts could be spun to claim that the action is not a tax increase. They are adept and expert with perpetual disinformation, so they shouldn’t have a problem with their own major campaign contributors.

      • Nemo says:

        Lack of creative thought? As opposed to the fresh and innovative “Tax and Spend” plan pushed by progressives and RINOs? Heh. non, check with your catcher before you lob these softball replies over the plate.

        • nonquixote says:

          Proving my point about your lack of creativity and now I will add lack of both intellectual curiosity and lack of knowledge.

          I offered one specific “yuge,” example of waste fraud and abuse, problems associated with and severely manifest state-wide, industrial agriculture, and all you are capable of is regurgitating, tax and spend.

          • Nemo says:

            Seeing the 5.2B in taxing (tax rescinding = taxing) your comment calls for overshadowed the pennies represented by the vestigial element of your remarks. Cleaning out waste is always a good idea, but we are not discussing the general fund. This is the transportation budget, try to keep up o’ knowledgeable one.

            • nonquixote says:

              And what part of the economy is not adversely affected by crappy roads? Ask the counties who witness miles of roads literally pulverized in an afternoon by liquid manure haulers working for the CAFO industrial agriculturists who pays for the destruction. Hint, as you obviously need one, not the haulers or the CAFO investors/owners. The public costs for their corporate profits on that business model, in addition to supporting that industry with even more tax forgiveness and expansion credits is a double public pocketbook whammy.

              I’ll leave out the loss of property tax collection revenues as the same CAFO produced pollution halves neighboring property values and raises health costs for rural populations through their direct poisoning of residential water wells and impaired surface waters that were, less than a decade ago, intensive tourist revenue draws as first class recreational fisheries, and are now completely impaired waterways with no aquatic life.

              Thanks for proving my points again.

              • Nemo says:

                nonquixote, thanks for the deliciously funny word salad! Blaming the problems with Wisconsin’s transportation budget on “liquid manure haulers” tossed among the lettuce, carrots and cucumbers of your comment is comedy gold! It also pairs well with the bacon wrapped meat of my previous musings. I’d suggest a whine to wash it all down, but I’m sure that whatever you come up with will be fine. Heh.

  3. Ted says:

    OR one could just promote policies that foster economic growth and the problem (and many others) would solve itself.

  4. Charles Kuehn says:

    Do I read this to mean we are already to raise the damn gas tax all ready?

    Seriously (an apparent need for proofreading aside), we indeed should raise it already. The unpalatable alternative would be to quit throwing money at Guvvie’s pet agency, the WEDC, and divert some of it to transportation infrastructure.

  5. John Hansen says:

    We should never, in any case, under any circumstance, have toll roads in Wisconsin. Besides being a major pain in my arse, tolls are an extremely expensive way to collect taxes! Raising gas taxes costs almost nothing in administrative overhead. Building and maintaining a tolling infrastructure costs millions. I would to know how many cents on the dollar are made available to the government from tolling, but I would guess that it’s about 75 cents on the dollar or worse.

    So in the short term, we should raise gas taxes. Yes, there are more fuel efficient cars on the road, and they won’t pay as much tax. Some may perceive this as “unfair”, but the difference in gas tax for a 20mpg car and a 30mpg car, driven 12,000 miles per year, is $40. Also, at this point, fuel efficient and electric vehicles are still relatively uncommon, so they aren’t that big of a problem yet.

    In the long term, I think we should roll infrastructure costs into sales taxes. Gas would be taxed at the sales tax rate, the same as any other product that you buy. That actually means that gas taxes would go down from about $.31/gallon right now to about $.13/gallon. Then, raise sales taxes to make up the difference. That would mean paying about an additional $63 per year on sales taxes, spread across all your purchases, but overall everybody would be paying the same amount of taxes overall. By rolling gas taxes into sales taxes, we make the system fair, since everybody who buys anything pays their share, and since the trucks that bring our products cause the most wear and tear on our roads. This means that somebody who drives a fuel efficient car or walks still pays for the cost of the roads that they depend on for their products. As an added bonus, this actually eliminates one entire category of taxes, thereby simplifying the tax system, rather than complicate it!

    But whatever we do, can we PLEASE not be like Illinois with their tollroads?

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