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Friday, January 25, 2013
Wisconsin, Maryland officials seek new revenue sources for transportation projects
A Wisconsin commission assigned to study possible transportation and funding policy proposals has recommended increasing the state's gas tax and creating a new mileage-based registration fee for passenger vehicles.
In its report titled, "Keep Wisconsin Moving: Smart Investments, Measurable Results," the Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission called for an additional $480 million in annual revenue investments through 2023 across all modes of transportation, including railroads, roads and bridges, airports, harbors, transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
The recommendations would "provide the minimum amount needed to maintain existing road and bridge conditions, improve safety, provide limited highway modernization and facilitate some multi-modal improvements," state officials said in a statement issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). The commission, which was established under the state's 2011-13 budget, released its report on Wednesday.
The commission recommended several ways to generate the revenue necessary to fund the necessary transportation investments, including raising the state gas tax by 5 cents per gallon, which would be the first increase since 2006; creating a new mileage-based registration fee for passenger vehicles; and increasing heavy truck registration fees.
The funding plan would represent a "balanced approach with a continued emphasis on a 'user pays' transportation systems, where taxes and fees are proportional to use of the highway system," commission members said, according to the WisDOT release.
Meanwhile, Maryland State Senate President Thomas Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) is calling for a series of funding proposals to jump start stalled rail and other transportation projects in that state. One proposal calls for creating regional authorities that could raise taxes to help pay for the light-rail Purple Line in the Washington, D.C., area and the Red Line in Baltimore, according to an article in the Jan. 22 edition of The Washington Post.
Maryland and Wisconsin join a number of other states in which officials have recently called for state-based measures to generate new sources of revenue that would support transportation infrastructure projects.