MADISON, Wis. - The state Senate's top Republican is acknowledging a proposal to impose a fee on heavy trucks to help pay for road projects is all but dead.
Assembly and Senate Republicans have been at loggerheads over how to fill a $1 billion shortfall in transportation funding. They have been considering imposing a new fee on heavy trucks to generate more revenue through the 2017-19 state budget.
BCP Transportation President Nancy Spelsberg is concerned about a possible per-mile fee proposal that could help infuse money into the state transportation budget.
“Truck drivers are some of the most affected by this transportation debate. They drive on some of these roads that need fixing, but now a possible solution to the state budget standoff could affect these trucks even more,” Spelsberg said.
“When you start to talk about real dollars to a company like us, that’s $70,000-$80,000 a year, and that doesn’t include any kind of administrative burden we would have to facilitate this. I think they need to hear the numbers and understand the real impacts. Ultimately, these costs could be passed through to customers," Spelsberg said.
But Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said that’s partially the point of the plan.
“The saying goes: If you bought it, a truck brought it. So my feeling was that this wasn’t targeting the trucking industry, but it was a way to put a user fee on that would be borne by the entire supply chain,” Loudenbeck said.
Concern from the trucking industry and a statement calling the idea the “tax of the week” from five Republican senators has put the brakes on the idea that held great hope in the Capitol earlier this week.
“If the five senators say ‘No, it’s not going to pass the Senate,’ I totally get that,” Loudenbeck said. “But that doesn’t mean that I’m not hoping that maybe those five folds give me a call and say, ‘I do think that you’re on to something and maybe a user fee is a conservative principle that I can support.'”
Spelsberg said she’d like to see a plan that spreads the solution across the highway.
“We just want it to be more fair and not have this entire burden fall on just the trucking companies,” Spelsberg said.
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said Fitzgerald believes after the five senators voiced their opposition it would be "very difficult" to get a budget that includes the truck fee through the Senate.