GREEN BAY, Wisc. (WFRV) A new sales tax and a jump in fees may be on the horizon.
It's all part of a report being handed over to state lawmakers on January 23rd. The Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission will be making the recommendations.
The Commission is looking to increase investments by $479.5 million annually by maintaining, modernizing and rehabilitating state highways, investing in local highways and bridges, as well as improving public transit, airports, rails, harbors, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. They believe these investments are essential to maintaining condition and congestion levels that exist today through 2023.
But where will the $479.5 million per year come from? For the most part, out of your pocket. If the recommendation passes, here is what drivers will face:
Here is what those recommendations include:
- A state gas tax jump of 5 cents per gallon
- A new mileage-based registration fee of 1.02 cents per mile for passenger cars and light trucks. This fee would be computed based on odometer readings reported by the vehicle owner at the time of annual registration
- An increase in annual registration fees for commercial vehicles by 73 percent
- A $20 increase in the fee for an eight-year driver license
- The elimination of sales tax exemption on the trade-in value of a vehicle.
The Commission is further recommending that the Legislature enact legislation to allow for the creation of regional transportation authorities with the power to levy a 0.5 percent transportation sales tax, subject to voter approval. At least 75 percent of that additional sales tax would be used to support transit, while the remaining money would be used for any transportation purpose.
In their report, "Keep Wisconsin Moving", the 10 member commission found traditional transportation revenues to be stagnant or declining, the cost of providing services to be increasing and the state to be demanding a higher level of transportation. The Commission noted that failing to make the needed investments in transportation will "harm our economy and compromise our safety when we travel".
Local 5's Wendy Fleury spoke with Tom Vandenberg, who is a member of the Commission. He says the projected revenue needs are significant and will be the most challenging given the current economic climate.
"Ultimately, it will be for the people, acting through the legislature, to determine the level of service on the one hand, and the funding levels and mechanisms, on the other hand, for which they are willing to commit."
In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Governor Walker highlighted his focus on improving the infrastructure of transportation.
"...I am committed to a healthy transportation system that includes roads, bridges, freight rail, ports, and airports. Whether it is traveling to a tourism destination or taking product to and from market, so many of our key industries--manufacturing, dairy products, timber and paper products, cranberries, vegetables, grain, sand--and soon, iron ore mining; so many of these industries depend on our strong transportation backbone."