Gov. Walker says he doesn’t support Assembly GOP gas tax changes

Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Republicans remain at odds over transportation funding after Walker criticized their plan to increase taxes on gasoline to pay for roads.

Four days after they announced it, state Assembly Republicans’ transportation plan has run into a brick wall with Gov. Scott Walker.

But the proposal they unveiled Thursday went well beyond that.

“We’re not reaching a utopia”, Kooyenga said.

“Once again, Republicans have made tax breaks for the wealthy their top priority, whether it be in Madison or Washington D.C.”, said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).

Assembly Republicans have unveiled a plan created to boost transportation funding and cut income taxes. “I appreciate the vast majority of them are very open to these discussions”. That tax hasn’t budged since 2006, and according to the National Council on State Legislatures, Wisconsin’s gas tax makes up about 60 percent of the transportation budget. Assembly Republicans would arrive at that number in a couple ways.

Berry says Wisconsin’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees have not been reliable sources of revenue for years, and the problem will only worsen, if the state doesn’t come up with a new plan.

“There is no conclusive evidence that modifying Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act will offset this significant tax increase”, the association’s president, Matt Hauser, said in a statement. The change would be phased in over the course of a decade.

The proposal would eventually phase in a flat income tax at just under 4 percent. The question shouldn’t be whether taxes and fees must be raised to improve the state’s infrastructure.

The overhaul of the tax code would cost the state about a half-billion dollars in annual revenue by 2021, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The money would go to reduce borrowing rather than new projects, however. Assembly Republicans would cut borrowing by $300 million over the next two-year budget.

Cutting The Minimum Markup: The plan would scale back Wisconsin’s minimum markup on gasoline that prevents big retailers from selling gasoline below cost, a move long fought by smaller retailers.

There’s no guarantee that gas stations will lower their prices even if the state changed its minimum markup requirement, he said. Hybrid registration fees would go up by $30 per year, while electric auto registration fees would go up by $125 annually. The move would generate about $4.8 million over the biennium.

“We are continuing to borrow more and more money and at some point we are going to max out the state’s credit card”.

– eliminate 180 Department of Transportation engineer positions. Kooyenga said that would cut costs as the state hired more private consultants, but a recent state audit showed engineering costs had grown as the state relied more on private engineers. The sales tax increase would need to be approved by voters in a referendum. Walker has proposed delaying major Milwaukee-area road projects, including the north leg of the Zoo Interchange. “We’re coming awfully close”, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington). “This does not solve transportation”. “We won’t have a transportation utopia, but we’re definitely in a place that’s better than where we are today”.

Instead, they’ve punted over and over again, increasing the number of potholes across the state and almost doubling the state’s transportation debt as percentage of revenue since Governor Walker took office. Nass referenced the way it would eliminate Walker’s more targeted tax cuts in favor of a flat tax. “Motor fuel is now exempt from the sales tax”, Berry says.

Walker’s office did not immediately comment on the proposal.

In an interview Friday, Walker panned the proposal to apply the 5 percent state sales tax to gas.

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