The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WDOT) Nov. 14 submitted a budget request calling for a two-year, $751.4 million increase in transportation funding from new fees and taxes, and for feasibility studies on state toll roads and a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) road tax.
WDOT Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says the state’s 30.9 cents-per-gallon flat excise tax on motor fuel would be lowered to 15.5 cents-per-gallon, with the addition of an 8 percent sales tax on the average wholesale price of motor fuel.
The agency anticipates such a move would increase the state gas tax by 5 cents-per-gallon, and would generate $152 million in new revenue in 2016, increasing to $206 million in 2017. The average wholesale price would be assessed on an annual basis by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, with a floor in place to prevent revenue from falling too low if the wholesale price drops.
WDOT’s plan calls for a fee on new vehicle purchases; a $50 annual charge on electric and hybrid cars; $573.6 million in income and sales tax receipts transferred to the state’s transportation fund from the general fund; and a decrease in the use of bond debt by $186 million.
WDOT also proposes studies on future methods of generating transportation revenues. It asks for the authority to begin collecting odometer data during vehicle registration and pre-registration in order to evaluate the potential for a VMT fee, and to initiate an 18-month “Tolling Feasibility Study” to test the potential for tolls on the state’s roads and bridges.
In 2013, the Wisconsin Transportation Finance & Policy Commission identified a transportation funding shortfall ranging from $2 to $17 billion over the next 10 years. WDOT anticipates a $300 million shortfall by the end of 2017 alone.
Gov. Scott Walker (R) will review the budget request before submitting it with his overall budget to the state legislature. In a Nov. 18 statement, Walker indicated he was likely to make significant changes to the proposed plan.
Read the plan.