Are Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature ready to kill any proposed increase in the state gas tax? It certainly looks that way.

The MacIver Institute is reporting that Wisconsin Republicans who control both the Assembly and the Senate are looking for different ways to increase funding for the state’s roads.

“Last session, the gas tax question was the main issue of contention between Republicans in the Assembly and Senate, with Assembly leadership pushing for an increase, and Senate Republicans against it,” M. D. Kittle reported for MacIver. “GOP leadership in both houses have said they will not let that happen this time around, that the stakes are too high for anything to divide them in divided government for the first time in eight years.”

That includes indexing the gas tax to inflation, according to Kittle, a major blow to advocates of finding a long-term source of increased revenue for transportation infrastructure spending.

The MacIver story follows a report by Steven Walters for Wisconsin Eye that Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) predicted that a gas tax increase will not be part of the state budget.

Instead, legislators will consider increasing registration fees by $10, including possibly on heavy trucks. In addition, legislators could consider a “one-time” use of general purpose revenue to fix bridges and roads.

“There’s an important need to rebuild bridges in this state,” Fitzgerald told Walters. “There’s nothing that says you couldn’t use that one-time money to build bridges in Wisconsin.”

However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is opposed, according to Walters, and would rather pursue a pay-per-mileage tracking system.

Governor Tony Evers has proposed a 8-cent per gallon increase which would be offset for consumers by the elimination of the state’s minimum markup on gasoline. The increase would generate nearly $485 million in new tax revenue for transportation spending.

The failure to increase the gas tax is perhaps a sign of Evers’ lack of any rapport with the Republicans in the legislature. Many political observers had consider transportation funding a possible area of compromise for the new governor and the legislature.

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