NEW INFORMATION: Gas tax increase proposal approved

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- It would cost more to register a vehicle, get a driver's license and buy gas in Wisconsin under a series of recommendations unanimously approved by a group studying ways to shore up transportation funding in the state.

The recommendations, that would generate about $479 million a year over the next 10 years, were released Wednesday by the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission.

Many of the group's ideas have already been rejected by Gov. Scott Walker.

The commission says the impact on the average driver would be $120 a year.

Walker has said improving the state's infrastructure is one of his priorities, but he is opposed to raising the gas tax. He will outline his plan in his state budget to be released next month.

STORY FROM 1/17/13
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP, WEAU) -- A report to state lawmakers will recommend increasing the gas tax and raising vehicle registration and driver's license fees.

The Oshkosh Northwestern reports Thursday that the report to be delivered next week will include those options and others as a way to close the state's $2 billion transportation funding gap.

Gov. Scott Walker has said improving the state's infrastructure is one of his priorities, but he is opposed to raising the gas tax.

The report from the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission will recommend a 5-cent increase in the gas tax and tying registration fees to miles traveled.

The recommendations would generate about $479 million a year to pay for road, bridge, airport and other transportation-related projects.

Gas prices and license fees in Wisconsin could skyrocket if law makers pass new recommendations to pay for transportation projects.

The transportation finance and policy commission says as we become more energy efficient, current gas taxes aren't enough and increases are needed to keep roads safe.

"Driving less and cars using less fuel, means less gallons purchased, which translates into less fuel tax being collected by the department," Marvin Hanson with the commission said.

The State Transportation Finance and Policy Commission said it's recommendations would total about a $120 increase per driver, and raise nearly $480 million dollars for maintenance every year.

"That's a modest increase for the value you get for using the transportation system when you compare it to something like your cell phone or cable TV bill," Hanson said.

"We're not going to probably find and option that everyone's going to be happy with, but transportation infrastructure is so key to our economy," Sen. Terry Moulton (R) said. "It's key to the safety of people using our roads."

"Some people have a license, but they don't necessarily drive or have a vehicle, so why should they have to pay extra?" Osseo driver Allison Kernz said.

"The governor spoke in his speech the other day about tax breaks for the middle class. By giving a tax break in one direction and increasing fees in other directions, it's kind of a shell game isn't it?" Rep. Dana Wachs (D) said.

"You see a lot of rough roads in the downtown areas," Eau Claire driver Dwayne Thomas said. "I would not oppose the increase as long as the repairs are going to help us, are going to make our cars and our vehicles ride a lot smoother, opposed to somebody else's."

Less than eight percent of funds would go to streets within city limits. The recommendation will is scheduled next Wednesday.

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