Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to Indiana for inspiration as they vote on a statewide budget, including plans to improve roads and infrastructure.
Indiana’s new budget includes an increased gasoline tax and new annual registration fees for specific vehicles. The plan is projected to raise $1.2 billion per year. Some Wisconsin groups are pushing for a similar plan to be adopted in their state.
Craig Thompson, the executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, says tax hikes and registration fees seem like responsible and sustainable ways to meet infrastructure needs.
“Indiana is facing a lot of the same issues that Wisconsin and states all across the country are facing, which is the usual pressing needs of infrastructure,” Thompson says. “But on top of that, our interstates in this country are turning fifty and sixty years old and need to be replaced, which is an expensive endeavor.”
But Thompson says some of the ideas Indiana employed are facing backlash in Wisconsin, where lawmakers are still sharply divided. He says Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will veto attempts to raise gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees.
Thompson emphasized the need for an ongoing budget solution that will provide reliable funds for infrastructure repairs in the long term, but says he’s not sure what the solution will be.
“We’re wondering a little bit just how creative we can be,” Thompson says. “We’ve watched some other states try to be creative, and they only end up coming back a couple years later, biting the bullet and increasing the gas tax.”
Thompson says he wants to avoid a solution that might take money out of the general fund, which supplies money to Medicaid and different education programs.
Indiana’s gas tax puts it in the middle of the pack compared to other states. The road funding package also opens the possibility for tolling on Indiana’s highways.