A proposal to allow local voters in Wisconsin to raise taxes to fix roads has failed to gain traction in the state Assembly.
The legislation from Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) would allow counties to ask residents to approve a half-cent sales tax for the maintenance of streets and highways.
The bill was placed on the Assembly floor calendar last week, but despite the support of Speaker Robin Vos, it failed to come to a vote.
“I strongly support the bill, because we need to get more money in local roads, and there is nothing that is more in tune with our philosophy than asking the voters permission, if they want to actually spend on something that they consider a priority,” Vos said.
But some members of the Republican majority caucus were not on board. Vos indicated that those lawmakers considered offering local voters the option to raise their own taxes would be tantamount to a tax increase.
“For some people to say that somehow, allowing the voters to decide is a tax increase, is just flat-out wrong,” Vos said.
Additional road funding is sorely needed in the state. A 2015 study commissioned by the Local Government of Wisconsin Institute rated the state’s roads the third worst in the nation, and pegged the problem primarily to budget cuts.
The idea is probably dead this session, although Vos said discussions will continue.