Department of Transportation (DOT) secretary-designee Craig Thompson, at the direction of Gov. Evers, has assembled a bipartisan transportation budget task force. The Transportation Stakeholder Task Force includes municipalities and counties, business and construction groups, tourism entities, and legislators from both Republican and Democrat legislators (full list of members). The task force has met twice to discuss the current DOT budget and transportation funding alternatives. Thompson will use the task force to make recommendations for Evers to include in his budget, due to the legislature by Feb. 28.
At its first meeting on Jan. 31, DOT gave an overview of the transportation budget, as well as details on specific programs, including bicycle/pedestrian, rail, aeronautics, and local programs. DOT then provided an introduction to transportation funding alternatives. At the meeting, Evers encouraged the task force to find a nonpartisan and sustainable solution for road funding.
At its second meeting on Feb. 4, DOT gave a presentation on highway programs. Then the task force spent the afternoon discussing transportation funding alternatives. Thompson solicited feedback from task force members, who indicated support for a 5.5 cent gas tax increase and reinstating indexing. The task force discussed other options to increase DOT revenue, including:
- A sales tax on fuel at the wholesale level
- Diverting a portion of sales tax on automobiles and parts from the general fund to the DOT fund
- Increasing registration fees
- A sliding annual registration fee linked to new vehicle value
- Title fee increases
- Mileage-based use fees
- Eliminating the current trade-in sales tax exemption for new vehicles