Pay less at the pump for bumpier roads

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published March 1, 2006  | March 2006 issue

Tired of rising prices at the pump? Apparently, so are Wisconsin legislators, who did their part (along with Gov. Jim Doyle) by eliminating the annual and automatic increase in the state's gas tax. But the measure comes with a new set of consequences for drivers.

The matter has been proposed numerous other times, but gained traction when gas prices spiked last fall after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Set to automatically rise by the rate of inflation on April 1 every year, the state's gas tax has gone from 16.5 cents in 1985 to 29.9 cents, one of the highest rates in the country.

While the repeal of that law will keep motorists happier at the pump, it might make them grumpier on the road because that tax funds the state's transportation system. Projections show fund revenue falling by $75 million in the 2008-09 biennium, enough to force delays in some projects and keep others from ever being considered.

Ronald A. Wirtz