Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gov. Doyle does a U-turn on gas tax indexing

Gov. Doyle might have whiplash as a result of the sharp turn-around on gas-tax indexing: he was against it before he was for it.

Doyle told the Wisconsin State Journal last week that the state should reconsider its 2005 repeal -- which Doyle supported -- of the law that allowed the gas tax to increase automatically every year at the rate of inflation. (It's so inconvenient to make legislators actually vote on tax increases.)

From the story:

"The simple fact is that where Wisconsin went, where Republicans took us, is unsustainable for transportation (infrastructure), where you say, that's basically it on the gas tax, regardless of what the costs are and what the needs are," Doyle said in a year-end interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. "I think that indexing had served us pretty well for a long period of time."

Wisconsin's motor fuels tax is now 30.9 cents per gallon, which as of January made it second only to the 36-cent tax in Washington state, said Dale Knapp, research director for the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Wisconsin also adds 2 cents per gallon for an environmental clean-up fund...

Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the governor was going back on a change that created "greater accountability" for taxpayers by making lawmakers vote on each increase in the gas tax.

"Consumers have finally found some relief at the pump, and now the governor wants to increase their burden during these uncertain economic times," he said.

Spurred by conservative talk radio and bloggers, the movement to repeal the automatic increases took the Capitol by surprise three years ago, overcoming initial concerns from Doyle and the then Republican leadership of the Legislature.

Signing the repeal three years ago, Doyle said, "It's not appropriate to raise taxes every year automatically, without elected officials having to stand up and be accountable to the people who are paying taxes."

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