Raising Wisconsin’s gas tax to help pay for transportation projects in the state may be a difficult battle for Assembly Republicans to win.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has previously said it’s one of many options that should “be on the table” as lawmakers work on the budget this spring and look to fill a $1 billion hole in the transportation fund. Governor Scott Walker opposes the move though, saying he will veto any budget that includes a gas tax hike that’s not offset by a tax reduction in some other area.
While he insisted he’s not conceding efforts to find new funding for roads, Vos indicated Wednesday at a Wispolitics.com event in Madison that the deck may be stacked against the Assembly GOP in their efforts to get a gas tax hike considered. “If you are a card player – I have a pair of twos, the governor has a straight, and I have to draw three of a kind to win,” Vos said. “It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on me.”
The Rochester Republican said he’s just being realistic and wants to make sure the Assembly is not creating a perception that something can happen without the governor’s participation. “I am going to continue to try to advocate that we need to have additional revenues to fix the long-term transportation fund deficit,” Vos said.
AUDIO: Speaker Vos says he’s being realistic about chances for a gas tax hike (:25)
Walker is expected to unveil his budget proposal early next month. The transportation funding request the Department of Transportation submitted to the governor last fall relied on borrowing, project delays, and other cost-cutting measures to help close a current gap in funding.
Still, Vos argued at least half the people in the state have indicated in a recent WMC poll that they want lawmakers to seriously consider a long-term fix. “I think most people have agreed we have a problem,” Vos said. “Now we just have to have courage to actually solve it.”