Robbing Peter to pay Paul, again, as lawmakers struggle to fix the multi-million dollar budget deficit.
The Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association is not happy about the governor's plan for balancing the state budget, which includes a transfer of nearly $300-million from the Transportation fund — the third such raid. Executive Director Pat Goss says the public needs to be confident that fees for driver's licenses and vehicle registrations are used to maintain the roads, including plugging those potholes.
“The condition of our roads is more visible than I think it's ever been in recent history and we need those dollars that people are paying as user fees to be invested in fixing those potholes, funding those transit systems, and maintaining the infrastructure that we have.”
Goss points to a new statewide poll, which shows 64% of those surveyed oppose using transportation funds for non-transportation purposes. He says the state needs a long-term funding mechanism to charge people who use the infrastructure.
“It's going to take a broad-based coalition of interest groups, a bipartisan approach to find a long-term funding solution. I think things like tolling, maybe a mileage-based fee concept that was just recently tested in the state of Oregon. Everything has got to be on the table. And maybe in the short run a gas tax increase.”
Another idea, Goss says, is a value-based registration fee, which is a fee based on the value of one's vehicle. Right now it's regressive … those driving old beaters pay the same fee to register their vehicle as do owners of expensive luxury vehicles.
As for the gas tax, Goss says it's simply not a long-term viable source of revenue, considering the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels. Meanwhile, the latest study by the national transportation research group, TRIP, shows, due to poor road conditions, the cost of operating a vehicle has increased by about $450.