Wisconsin Lawmakers Scrap Evers' Gas Tax, Approve Fee Increases To Fix Roads

Jun 6, 2019

Wisconsin lawmakers have approved a plan to fund road repairs. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance committee Thursday night scrapped Gov. Tony Evers proposal for an 8-cent per gallon gas tax – and instead passed a measure to raise title and vehicle registration fees. The vote was 11-5, along party lines.

Under the plan, vehicle registration fees would increase by $10 to $85 a year. Titles would go up $95 to $164.50. The plan also includes more than $300 million in new borrowing. Democrats on the committee expressed outrage over the increased fees, including state Sen. Jon Erpenbach. He says the Republican plan amounts to a tax solely on Wisconsinites.

“The Republican proposal takes out-of-state drivers completely off the hook when it comes to chipping in and paying for our roads. On my way down today, three or four cars from Illinois passed me. Somebody from Minnesota passed me, and I passed somebody from Missouri. That’s three states that when they stop, they’re going to be paying a gas tax and under Gov. Evers’ plan, they’re going to be chipping in even more. Under the Republican plan, they’re not,” he said.

Republican state Sen. Luther Olson supports the fee increases. He says a gas tax would prove unsustainable.

“Because cars are more fuel efficient, so they are not burning as much gas, so they are not paying as much gas tax. Every study says the gas tax is not sustainable and we’ve got to figure something else out,” he said.

The Joint Finance committee has spent the past month weeding through Evers’ budget proposal and making changes. Republican leaders say they hope to complete their work by the end of next week. Then, it goes to the full Legislature.