Research group challenges gas tax proposal, pushing repairs over expansion

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - A proposal that would raise gas prices, registration fees and license fees is being criticized in a new report from a state research group.

Recommendations to raise taxes and fees to pay for road projects were delivered by the state transportation finance and policy commission to law makers Wednesday. Thursday, both drivers and researchers said an increase in funding was necessary, but it needs to go to the right place.

"The vehicles are using less gas, which in turn means less money for all these projects. So I believe an added gas tax is one of the only solutions," Eau Claire driver Phil Prusak said.

The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group compared the proposal to other states' plans said much of the nearly $480 million dollar increase in taxes and fees is going to the wrong place.

"Let's get our priorities straight, and cut wasteful spending on unnecessary highway projects and redirect that money towards urgent needs that we have. Repair, maintenance and transit needs that are getting used more and more," WISPERG director Bruce Speight said.

With no significant population increase expected and people driving less than they used to, he said building new roads is the wrong thing to do.

"Building extravagant highway projects that aren't needed is a waste of money."

Prusak agreed.

"We need to repair what we have. First of all and take care of some of our crumbling bridges and the roads that are in terrible condition right now," Prusak said.

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