Group Says State Needs to Raise Gas Tax

10/10/11 – A new study says Wisconsin’s gas tax would have to rise by 50-cents a gallon to maintain all of the roads in the state – local streets included. U-W Madison researchers say up to 55-percent of all road costs are paid by general taxes, including the local property tax. And while the gas tax does cover state-owned highways, those roads only make up 10-percent of what Wisconsinites drive on. The U-W did the study for the One-Thousand Friends of Wisconsin environmental group. The group’s director, Steve Hiniker, said the gas tax and vehicle fees need to be jacked up so local governments can avoid cutting other services – and perhaps cut property taxes. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities jumped on the study to demand a larger share of state funding for local roads and transit. Pat Goss of the state road builders’ group said both local-and-state roads need more funding. But he said environmentalists quote, “want to rob Peter to pay Paul” by demanding a huge hike in the state’s gas tax. Goss said local sales taxes can pay for mass transit – and he notes that Milwaukee has its own city vehicle tax to help maintain local streets. Meanwhile, road builders continue to push for a constitutional amendment to prevent the state from using gas tax money for other things – something Republicans halted in this year’s state budget. The new study reviewed expenses over a five-year period ending in 2008. It said Wisconsin households pay an average of 780-dollars a year in general-and-property taxes to maintain roads – and they pay 50-dollars a year to keep transit buses rolling.