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Assembly leaders shoot down gas tax increase and per-mile charges

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MADISON (WSAU)  Wisconsin Assembly leaders say there’s no way they’ll approve a higher gasoline tax and a new vehicle registration fee that rises the more you drive. Those were the two main ideas endorsed yesterday by a bi-partisan commission, which called on motorists to pay an average of $120 more each year to maintain roads and other transportation facilities.

But Assembly Republican Majority Leader Scott Suder said raising taxes would only quote, “damage our recovering economy.” He said any increase in the state gas tax is “simply off the table.” The commission proposed a five-cent hike in the gas tax, the first such increase since 2006. It also wanted motorists to report how many miles they travel in a year, and pay a license plate fee ranging up to $204-dollars for those driving 20,000miles.

Suder and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also struck that down. The commission also suggested higher registration fees for other vehicles, a jump in the driver license fee, and imposing sales taxes on trade-ins.

Panel member Bob Cook said he hoped the ideas would lead to a compromise. Commission member John Antaramian, a former state lawmaker and Kenosha mayor, said something has to be done – and while Governor Scott Walker might not like the idea of raising taxes quote, “the options are limited.”

Walker’s office did not comment on the panel’s ideas. The governor is expected to propose his own on February 20th, when he submits his next budget package to the Legislature.

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