, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is adamantly opposed to a plan floating around the Wisconsin statehouse to add another fee for professional drivers.
More than two weeks removed from the start of the state’s fiscal year, Wisconsin state lawmakers are working to finalize a state budget that would also provide necessary revenue for transportation projects.
Options on the table to boost road revenues include a fuel tax increase, tolls, and bonds. Another option offered by Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, calls for truck drivers to do the heavy lifting to pay for needed work.
Her plan would place a per-mile fee on trucks weighing more than 8,000 pounds.
“I feel a sense of urgency with regards to finding a solution as I represent a significant portion of the I-39/90 corridor, which could be drastically impacted depending on the outcome of the transportation budget,” Loudenbeck said in prepared remarks.
Only four states collect per-mile fees on truckers: Kentucky, New Mexico, New York and Oregon.
The Wisconsin plan is touted to raise more than $250 million over two years if a version similar to Kentucky’s 2.85-cent-per-mile fee is implemented.
Groups that include OOIDA and the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association have come out against Loudenbeck’s plan.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, calls a weight-distance tax for commercial drivers “fundamentally unreasonable and inappropriate.”
He points out that truckers already pay heavy vehicle use taxes, federal and state fuel taxes, Unified Carrier Registration taxes, federal excise taxes on new tractors, trailers, and tires, and International Registration Plan taxes, to name a few.
“In short,” Matousek said. “They pay more than their fair share.”
Another point made by OOIDA is that revenue from a weight-distance tax would be significantly offset by increased administrative and enforcement costs.
“In effect, you want to tax truckers because of the misguided belief that they do not pay enough to support our roads and bridges,” Matousek wrote in a letter to Loudenbeck. “Yet much of the revenue generated from a weight-distance tax will never actually be used for highway construction or maintenance.”
He adds that “small-business truckers are not rolling piggy banks and should not be treated as such.
“They literally drive our economy and deliver the goods that all Americans depend on every day. Singling out truckers to solve Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure needs is wrong.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has indicated that Loudenbeck’s plan could be one component of a new state budget.
A group of five Republican Senators in the GOP-led chamber, however, have come out against what they referred to as the “tax of the week.”
“Instead of getting creative to find new ways to tax Wisconsinites, we should be discussing the reforms needed to clean up an agency with a record of over-designing, over-building, and over-paying for our roads,” the Senators wrote in a released statement.
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