Letter to the Editor: Tax Increases vs. Facts

Governor Walker never lets facts get in the way. In his mind any revenue increase is a tax increase, fact or not a fact. He absolutely refuses to consider any additional funds to maintain our roads, much preferring to borrow the money and let future generations deal with the problem. Who knows, maybe we will have a Democrat governor some day who will have to pay off those bonds, and the Republicans can blame everything on him.

Wisconsin’s gas tax has been indexed for inflation since 1985, in terms of inflation the tax is a constant. But that is only one issue.

But what about the gas tax paid per vehicle? In 1980 the average car got 14.9 miles per gallon, in 2014 the average car got 21.4 miles per gallon. The average new vehicle now gets 36.4 miles per gallon (in 2014), so as the older cars are retired, the fleet average can only improve, and improve materially. Which means a lot less tax is being paid per car.

There are 2.5 million cars registered in Wisconsin (as of 2009).

12,000 miles per year is the considered the norm for miles put on the average car.

Using the same mileage as the fleet average in 1980, and the current tax rate, the average driver would pay $79.10 more in gas tax per year if mileage had not improved, annual gas tax paid by Wisconsin residents would be $197.7 million per year more per year if mileage had not improved.

It is nice to get better mileage, to save money on gasoline, and to cause less pollution. But to say that each car should pay the same tax in 2017 as it paid in 1980 is not a tax increase.

This same logic holds true for heavy-duty trucks and diesel fuel. Truck fleet mile has gas improve as well. Adjustments need to be made for that too.

Taxes are paid in dollars, not in cents per gallon. If the amount of money you or I fork in absolute dollars over is a constant, the same this year as 10 years ago or 20 years ago or 30 years ago, there is no tax increase. If the method of levying that tax has to change because the miles per gallon changes, so be it. That is just a formula for levying the tax, but that is not a tax increase. The tax is say $250 per year per car. It is that simple.

This will all go over Walker’s head, but as our roads fall apart, as bridges fail, as people get hurt, it is best that we are all informed as to the stupidity of our government, and specifically our governor.

Jim Riead

Egg Harbor, Wis.