Wisconsin Needs More Tax Revenue

This weekend has been most illuminating for those who wish to understand where the problems rest when it comes to making for a functioning government.  The dysfunctional atmosphere in Washington shows what gridlock will produce for a nation. We can all agree it is not a pretty sight.

While world markets will respond to the chaos what might Wisconsin citizens learn from the flawed notion that taxes are always supposed to go down, but never up.

There is real controversy brewing about the need to raise revenue for Wisconsin’s transportation needs.  If the ideological wing of the Republican Party prevails, and no new means of increasing needed funds are made into law, then the state’s infrastructure will falter, and our economy will be placed in a further long-term pinch.

The Transportation Finance and Policy Commission released a report that shows where the tire meets the road in Wisconsin.  Before I go further it should be noted that this commission is no liberal, big-government group of latte-drinking socialists.  No, the commission has eight of the ten voting members appointed by Republicans, including six named by Governor Walker.

They recommended some serious medicine for the state, namely tax and fee increases.  The reason something big has to be done is the report finds that over the next 10 years, there’s anywhere between a $2 billion and $17.1 billion funding gap for transportation infrastructure in this state.  The gap in numbers is due to how forthright we are in addressing the needs.

With guts and forethought this group urged an increase in the state motor fuel tax by 5 cents per gallon, voted for an adoption of a new “mileage-based registration fee”, supported increased fees for registration and driver’s licenses, while removing a sales tax exemption for trade-in vehicles.  To the delight of folks such as myself they even allowed for the creation of regional transportation authorities with the power to collect sales taxes.

This is the type of real policy thinking that needs to come from Republican circles.  The idea that there is never to be any new tax hikes or ways to reap revenue is a most absurd and untenable position from which to govern.  For far too long there has been a line of rhetoric that cutting government is the only way to move a state (or a nation) forward.  We have seen the limits, and pure folly of such a political argument both in Washington, and in Madison.

I applaud the honest work of this commission, even though I strongly think rail traffic is still one of the more prudent moves this state could undertake.  But if that is not the direction we are headed, then we need to at least meet the needs that are presented to us.

Now it will be up to the Republicans to either meet the transportation needs honestly or pass the buck, duck, dodge, and weave.

I hope some mature members of the Republican legislature come forward and address the need for more revenue from Wisconsin citizens.

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