Gov. Jim Doyle is battling mounting criticism that diverting $500
million in transportation taxes to subsidize public schools and
local governments will hurt the state’s highway system, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
If his budget
proposal is signed into law, $250 million a year for two years
would be diverted from the transportation fund. The Republican-led
Legislature has called the Democratic governor’s plan a raid on
the transportation fund.
the worst budget deficit in the state’s history – $3.2 billion
by mid-2005 – forced him to make his roads-to-schools choice to
call for the $500 million transfer from the separate transportation
fund, which pays for road projects. Transportation funds come
from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
has called key parts of Doyle’s budget “wrongheaded,” the Journal
objects strongly to this raid on segregated highway-user revenues,
needed to meet the serious and mounting transportation needs for
which they were collected,” it said.
using transportation taxes to fund other programs, sales taxes
should flow the other way, AAA Wisconsin argued. Because it relies
on only the fuel tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for
transportation, Wisconsin has the “narrowest base” of taxes of
any state, the motorists group told the newspaper. It recommended
that sales taxes collected on vehicle sales and leases, vehicle
repair and vehicle parts should go to the transportation fund.
It also said
Doyle’s budget would force state government to use bonds – for
the first time – to pay for highway rebuilding programs.