Bott: “Highway Robbery in the Truest Sense of the Words”
MADISON, WI – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin today announced its strong opposition to a proposal being circulated by the Assembly to assess a per-mile fee on heavy trucks in Wisconsin in the new state budget. The free-market group said it will activate its base of 130,000 grassroots activists to defeat the proposal known as the “Ton Per Mile Tax.”
“This proposal is highway robbery in the truest sense of the words,” said AFP-WI State Director Eric Bott. “Under this scheme, small trucking businesses will get hit worst and first. They’ll pass these new costs onto their customers or lose business to firms operating in other states.”
Bott noted that the Wisconsin’s trucking industry alone paid 38 percent of all taxes owed by Wisconsin motorists last year and already faces the 5th highest trucking fees in the nation. The proposed fee equates to a shocking 20 cents/gallon tax hike on a trucker averaging 7 miles/gallon.
“A tax hike of this magnitude on family owned firms could be crushing,” said Bott. “The legislature should put the brakes on this proposal until the harm it could cause is fully realized.”
Bott pointed to a recent audit that found massive waste and abuse at the Department of Transportation (DOT). Over the last decade, more than 360 projects received just one bid, but the audit revealed the state could have saved $44.7 million if they received two bids – pointing to major procurement process issues. Opening DOT contracts to more competitive bidding would save Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, providing revenue that could be used to help solve the state’s budget shortfall.
Bott also noted that increasing gas tax revenues, lower borrowing costs, and savings obtained by new leadership at the DOT recently freed up more than $100 million for road projects. He said the legislature should let new DOT leadership continue to cut costs while advancing additional cost-saving reforms including a full repeal of the prevailing wage, federal swap legislation, and a design-build approach to project construction.
“Before embracing tax hikes that disrupt our economy, raise prices on everything consumers buy, and threaten to put small trucking firms under, the legislature must move every possible reform,” said Bott. “The mantra of the Assembly should be reform first, tax second. Right now it seems like it’s the other way around.”