The Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission today gave unanimous approval to its final report on the needs of Wisconsin’s transportation system over the next decade, including a set of recommendations for how those needs can be funded.
The Commission report titled, Keep Wisconsin Moving – Smart Investments, Measurable Results, calls for additional annual investments of nearly $480 million through 2023 across all modes, including state and local roads and bridges, airports, railroads, harbors, transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The recommended investments would provide the minimum amount needed to maintain existing road and bridge conditions, improve safety, provide limited highway modernization and facilitate some multimodal improvements. According to data compiled by the Commission, continuing the status quo level of investment will result in serious worsening in the condition and safety of state highways, increased urban highway congestion and reduced service levels for public transit.
Some of the Commission’s recommendations to generate the revenue necessary to fund needed investments include:
- raising the state gas tax by five cents per gallon (the first increase since 2006);
- creating a new mileage-based registration fee for passenger vehicles;
- increasing heavy truck registration fees;
- increasing the fee for the state’s eight-year drivers’ license by $20; and
- eliminating the sales tax exemption on the trade-in value of vehicles.
The Commission also advanced various transportation policy changes, including those to limit bonding, support a state constitutional amendment to protect the integrity of the transportation fund, address the impact of inflation on future needs and permit the creation of regional transportation authorities to assist local governments with their funding challenges.
If the Commission’s recommendations are adopted, the impact on the average vehicle owner would be 33 cents per day or about $120 a year. Legislative leaders say they’ll closely examine the Transportation and Policy Commission report, but want to find ways to fund our highways other than raising taxes on Wisconsin drivers.