Wisconsin lawmakers reached agreement this week on a two-year, $57 billion state budget that includes a 30 percent increase in registration fees for large trucks. Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to sign the budget into law Friday, Oct. 26.
After more than three months of haggling, the Assembly voted 60-39 to approve the 1,633-page budget bill. Senate lawmakers followed suit on an 18-15 vote.
Some trucking industry officials in the state had reservations about the first increase in truck fees in about 10 years, but they have said that they believe it is a better option than some alternatives discussed during the budget negotiations.
One of the numerous fee increases is projected to generate $57 million during the next two years. The registration fee for all trucks traveling Wisconsin roads will rise by 30 percent.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, owners of the largest trucks would pay $2,560 in annual registration fees, up from $1,969.50 – an increase of $590.50. The boost would make Wisconsin’s fees the 10th highest nationally, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Annual registration fees for passenger vehicles would increase from $55 to $75. Commercial vehicles weighing less than 4,000 pounds would have annual registration rates increase from $48.50 to $75. Trucks between 4,500 and 6,000 pounds would see rates go from $61.50 to $84. Trucks between 6,001 and 8,000 pounds would have to pay $106, up from $77.50.
Left off the final version of the budget is a provision sought by the governor that called for taxing oil companies. Trucking industry officials said it would have increased fuel prices by as much as 10 cents per gallon.
The current tax rate for diesel and gas in the state is 32.9 cents.
Included in the budget bill is a provision long sought by transportation advocates. It prohibits the governor from diverting money from the state transportation fund for other uses.
During the past four years, Doyle has rerouted $1.1 billion from transportation to education, then increased borrowing to pay for roads, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Another provision in the budget includes exemptions from emission inspections for vehicles of model years ranging from 1967 to 1995, and vehicles of model year 2007 or later that are powered by diesel.
The bill also would prohibit building a weigh station in Rockland off Interstate 90. The state Department of Transportation couldn’t add traffic lanes on Interstate 94 adjacent to Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee.
In addition, it includes up to $80 million in state borrowing to help start passenger rail service between Madison and Milwaukee. The project still needs federal approval.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin in 2007, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor