More Fees For Wisconsin Vehicle Owners A Smart, Needed Proposal
Over the past election cycle I was one of the continuing voices to underscore the need for more revenue to run our government. There is no doubt that more revenue is required for the programs and services that impact the people who use and benefit from them. While Republicans continually stated they only wanted to cut and purge spending, many Democrats were talking about the need for more revenue.
It has long been a sore point with me that too many think taxes should only always go down, and additional revenues are never to be found or increased to maintain our services which allow our society to function. While there is always room to debate the merits of a tax increase versus a fee increase I am still pleased with the direction a state transportation commission has taken, one that is making bold headlines today.
The commission is asking lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to adopt a 5-cent hike in the state gas tax, an increase in annual vehicle registration fees based on miles driven, and a big jump in heavy truck registration fees.
The need to raise revenue for Wisconsin’s transportation needs should not be controversial. We might debate the way to raise the funds but there is no doubt that without increased amounts of money, or new ways to fund our systems the state’s infrastructure will falter, and our economy will be placed in a further long-term pinch.
The harsh ideological wing of the Republican Party will have to bend and compromise to allow for the fees to be placed into the budget, and then show some spine and cast a vote for passage. But at the end of the day it should not be a rough vote to take. If common sense and the facts of our transportation needs are front-and-center then the political way forward will be easy. I say this as I know good policy is also good politics.
No credible elected official can truly think that revenue sources should not be found or increased to make our state roads continue to be a source of competitive commerce. No licensed driver can believe they do not have a stake in maintaining the roads they use, or insuring new ones are built to support the added growth we will needed as the economy expands.
No one else may say it today, but I will.
I think it took guts and forethought for the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission to make the recommendations it did. It is easy to skirt an issue, or propose only ideas that meet everyone’s desire. But to squarely define the problems the state confronts with our transportation needs, and then find a route forward should be applauded.
We should all desire more men and women in Washington such as those who made up this bi-partisan commission in Wisconsin. This group worked to find solutions for our revenue shortfalls, and did not fall short of their mission due to some political taboos. They seem to understand that government is best when it works and functions for the people.
Governor Walker and other Republicans often throw a political barb at Washington for the lack of getting ‘anything done’. Now might be the time for the GOP in this state to demonstrate for others that they know how to fund the highways, harbors, airports, and bicycle transportation projects the people use and want.