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Return The Automatic Gas Tax Increase? One Legislator Says Yes


Recent  stories that some major road improvements in Wisconsin might have to be scaled back has brought a call to change how transportation is funded. In the current budget, the state anticipated borrowing to get the work done due to a shortfall in the state transportation funds. Republicans scaled back the borrowing in the budget.

Democrat Senator Jon Erpenbach from Madison says the legislature should look at raising the gas tax a nickel and then return to an automatic small increase in the gas tax each year, first brought in by then-Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.

Erpenbach says borrowing to fix roads is a bad choice. He says the projects being slowed are main commercial arteries in southern Wisconsin. But he says the rural roads are in bad shape, too...

"....I imagine everybody in the Northwoods driving on some roads that have been broken down for quite awhile. The state isn't giving local units of government enough money to make sure those roads are fixed...."

Wisconsin is rated third worst in the nation for highway infrastructure by the federal Department of Transportation  with 71 percent of roads in poor or mediocre condition, according to Erpenbach. He says there isn't a shortage of money in the budget, rather a shortage of money in a segregated fund. He says in the last three budgets the transportation budget has pulled from the general fund  to support some of the scheduled maintenance and projects.

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