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Commission endorses fee hikes for Wisconsin drivers


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A state commission says the average Wisconsin motorist needs to pay an extra $120 a year in fees, just to maintain the state’s current transportation system.

The Finance and Policy Commission endorsed its recommended fee hikes just before Christmas.

Now, the Oshkosh Northwestern has dug up a more detailed report that the panel plans to submit to the Legislature next Wednesday. The commission looked for ways to cover a $2 billion gap between today’s revenues, and the costs of maintaining the state’s existing roads, bridges, airports, railroads, bike paths, and mass transit.

The proposals include a registration fee that hinges on how many miles you drive.

Commission member Craig Thompson said motorists will report it on the honor system – and the state would not measure it with GPS monitors, thus alleviating privacy concerns. The fee would be just over a penny a mile between 3,000 and 20,000 miles a year for car drivers, with a max of $204.

It would replace the current $75 flat fee for cars. Trucks and other vehicles would have differing fee hikes with the same concept.

The panel also calls for a 5 cent a gallon hike in the gas tax, a $34 jump in the driver’s license renewal fee, and the elimination of a sales tax exemption for trade-ins. Those things could bring in an extra $479 million a year. 

Assembly Democrat Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh said something has to be done. If more money doesn’t come in, he says new road projects would have to be delayed, and older facilities would deteriorate.

Republican Governor Scott Walker has spent his entire tenure fighting tax increases. But Hintz says the GOP is big on infrastructure, so it’s not likely they’ll reject the entire proposals out of hand.