Wisconsin governor wants new road funding source

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/17/2013

Gov. Scott Walker is calling on Wisconsin lawmakers to approve a new, long-term source of funds for road work.

The state gets 85 percent of its transportation revenue from the fuel tax and vehicle registration fee.

The governor said the state needs to look at alternatives to the fuel tax to get needed transportation work done. Walker said it is “unrealistic” to expect the state’s 32.9-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to provide sufficient funding at the same time that fuel efficiency standards improve, people drive fewer miles, and construction costs increase.

A solution for the state’s $6 billion shortfall to address road and bridge needs during the next 10 years could be difficult to resolve. In January, the state’s Transportation Finance and Policy Commission released a report that called for truckers and others to pay more at the fuel pump to raise money.

The 10-person panel appointed by Walker recommended the state’s fuel tax rate be increased by 5 cents per gallon. Other recommendations included implementing a new mileage-based fee for motorists and increasing registration fees for large trucks.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association remains committed to the fuel tax as the primary way to fund highways.

OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley said the fuel tax has shown to be the most efficient system to pay for highway maintenance and improvements based on its low cost of collection.

The panel also reviewed tolling as a possible funding method. However, they found “that current federal regulations on tolling create an obstacle to its implementation in Wisconsin.”

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