Monday, April 20, 2009

Governor Doyle gives me gas

Governor Doyle's tax on "big oil" profits is not likely to pass the legislature. (Will any Democrats apologize to State Representative Bill Kramer now that they are the tools of Big Oil, too?) So the usual suspects are going back to their favorite revenue source: raising taxes directly at the gas pump.

Gov. Jim Doyle said Monday he’s open to a 3-cent gasoline tax increase as an alternative to his proposed tax on oil company sales.

Doyle said he preferred his plan to pay for roads by raising taxes on oil companies by $272 million over two years and barring the firms from passing the tax on to consumers.

But some business groups have instead been pushing an increase to the state’s gas tax — currently the second highest in the nation — saying it wouldn’t face the oil tax’s potential legal challenges.

"I give them credit. They’ve really worked to come up with a proposal, and I think it’s one that’s worthy of consideration," Doyle said.

The plan by groups representing oil companies, grocers, car dealers and convenience stores would include $306 million in new money over two years for the state’s road fund through the gas tax hike and new fees.

As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, Wisconsin already has one of the highest gas taxes in the country. That high tax has allowed Governor Doyle and the legislature to raid the transportation fund for nearly $1.3 billion, far more than this new tax would raise. If the governor and the legislature could keep their hands off the transportation fund, we could actually cut the gas tax and vehicle fees, not raise them.

The new taxes and fees, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:

• Raise $170 million from the gas tax.

• Raise $61 million by increasing the fee for car titles to $78 from $53.

• Raise $15 million by putting a $50 annual surcharge on hybrid vehicles.

• Use $42 million already in an environmental cleanup fund.

Nice to see the "environmental cleanup fund" is just a slush fund along with the rest of the transportation budget.