Just Fix It Wisconsin

Walker looking for ways to fund road work 7/12/2016

7/12/2016, The Chippewa Herald – On Tuesday night, the Chippewa County Board will decide whether it wants to send a message to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature to come up with reliable way to fund Wisconsin’s highways.

Walker admits that will be tough to do. The reason, he said: Cars don’t burn up as much gasoline as they did in the past.

Most of the state funding for highways comes from the state gasoline tax. “Collections have gone down because cars are more fuel efficient,” Walker said Monday during a stop at the Cornell Area Ambulance office. His stop was part of his “Cabinet on the Road” throughout Western Wisconsin on Monday and Tuesday.

He said funding through the gas tax will be even more of a challenge in the next five to 10 years if there is a mass exodus and more drivers switch to electric vehicles.

Then the state will have to figure out some way to get the funding. A mileage-based tax could be one alternative, but Walker wondered how the state would administer that.

The resolution the County Board will consider in its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Courthouse said the state has been over-relying on borrowing. In turn, more of the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees are being used to pay debt.

“Wisconsin motorists pay significantly less than any of our neighbors when you combine the annual cost of the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees,” the resolution says, adding if the state doesn’t adjust its user fees local and state roads will deteriorate significantly over the next 10 years.

However, Walker said he has and will keep a campaign pledge not to raise the state gasoline tax or registration fees unless there is an equal reduction somewhere else in the budget.

Walker said he’s instructed Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb in forming his agency’s next budget to focus on maintenance and keeping roads safe.