Monday morning, Governor Tony Evers made his way to Titletown to elaborate further on what his newly proposed budget would mean for transportation in Northeast Wisconsin.
“People said ‘fix the darn roads,’ that’s the bottom line,” he said of the budget, and the plan to increase the gas tax by eight cents.
The gas tax currently stands at 30.9 cents per gallon, a number that has not increased since 2006.
“We’re going to be bringing in 600 million dollars that we haven’t had before,” Evers said. “It’s going to be the lowest amount that we’ve bonded for in 20 years.”
Craig Thompson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says that the gas tax increase will allow the state to avoid borrowing as much money as it has in recent years.
“In the past, the way we’ve kept going is just by issuing bonds and going further into debt,” Thompson said. “As a result, right now, of the money we are bringing in, almost 20 cents of every dollar goes to pay the credit card bill for what we’ve already done.”
According to Governor Evers, the tax increase will help the state invest in its roadways.
“Not only to make sure that our large highways are in good shape but so that local municipalities can actually fix the potholes,” he said.
Republican State Senator Andre Jacque says the eight cent increase is too much.
“I think the Governor’s budget goes beyond in tax and fee increases what a number of groups that were very supportive of additional revenue for transportation were willing to support,” Sen. Jacque said. “That’s troubling as well.”
The Evers administration says that compared to Wisconsin’s neighbors, the increase is not a dramatic one.
“Right now, Minnesota’s proposing to increase theirs 20 cents and Ohio is proposing to increase theirs 18 cents,” Thompson said. “So I think what we’re looking at is a very modest increase.”
The administration says that increase will be offset by the elimination of the state’s Minimum Markup Law, which requires gas stations to mark up gas prices 9.18 percent, which currently stands at roughly 14 cents per gallon.
“There’s been a lot of support from Republicans in the past for getting rid of Minimum Markup,” Thompson said, “so I think this is something they would look very favorably upon.”
The current budget runs through June 30th but will remain in effect until a new one is passed.