State commission requesting five-cent increase in gas tax

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MADISON (WITI) -- A state commission is recommending a five-cent increase in the gas tax and higher vehicle registration fees. The state plans to use the money to help keep up with road, bridge, airport, bike and rail maintenance projects.

American United Taxi Cab driver Erik Rodriguez bristles at the mere prospect of increasing Wisconsin's gas tax by five cents per gallon.

"I basically fill up seven times a week. Gas prices always going up, and then another five cents -- I mean, that's a lot of money. I spend already at least $200 a week on gas alone," Rodriguez said.

Along with increases to vehicle registration costs and driver's license fees, the tax increase is one of the funding and policy recommendations the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission presented at the state Capitol on Wednesday morning, January 23rd.

They are part of a report entitled to keep Wisconsin moving -- smart investments and measurable results that aim to generate about $480 million to maintain roads, bridges and other transportation components.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos reacted to the recommendation. 

"The recommendations brought forward probably don't have a lot of possibility of passing. I just think now is not the right time to raise the gas tax," Vos said.

Vos said he recognizes the state's need for maintenance money. 

Meanwhile, state Rep. Fred Clark says that money shouldn't come at the expense of other state programs.

"It would be morally wrong to take money away from those critical programs to build highways," Rep. Clark said.

American United Vice President Red Christenson says any gas tax increase would be difficult for all drivers at the state's largest taxi cab company and subsequently, their passengers.

"We'd have to raise our taxi cab meter rate and right now, that's really cost prohibitive in the economy," Christenson said.