Drivers react to gas tax increase proposal

WisDOT proposal would raise taxes, fees $751M over 2 years
Drivers react to gas tax increase proposal

A budget proposal from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation would raise taxes and fees on drivers $751 million over two years.

In the WisDOT proposal submitted Friday, the state’s gas tax would undergo changes that would cost the average driver more at the pump. The plan would keep a per-gallon tax and add a variable tax on the wholesale price of gas. Upon implementation, it would raise the gas tax by 5 cents a gallon from $0.31 to $0.36. That would add up to a $27 a year for the average driver of a late-model sedan.

Verona salesman Arlon Mason said it would be more than that for him.

“I put a lot of miles on every year, and gas is the biggest expense I have, bigger than my mortgage,” Mason said. “I don’t know where the secretary or whoever is getting his numbers, but if they don’t have enough dollars, they better cut the budget back.”

The proposal would increase the tax on diesel fuel even more, raise registration fees for hybrid or electric cars by $50 a year and create a new fee for buying a new car, adding up to $800 dollars on a $32,000 vehicle. All these fee increases will fill a hole in the state transportation fund, which is projected to have a $300 million deficit at the end of 2017.

Driver Colton Young said that’s all he needs to hear.

“I have mixed feelings,” Young said. “I don’t really want to pay more for gas, but I don’t want bad roads either. You know, if it gets better roads for us to drive on then that’s great. I’m willing to pay the extra 5 cents or whatever.”

Many local government groups have come out in support of the plan. Environmental groups are already striking at the hybrid vehicle fee, saying it would penalize people for purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he will review the transportation plan along with other spending requests.