Wisconsin lawmakers continued disagreements over road funding Monday, the day before the Assembly Transportation Committee has a meeting to discuss the proposed transportation budget.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, released a video today to show how potholes and other poor road conditions make the jobs of emergency responders more challenging. In the video, Vos takes an ambulance ride with his cousin, who works with the Burlington Rescue Squad.
“If you’re doing CPR or something like that, it’s really difficult,” Mike Vos said in the video, noting the poor conditions of area roads.
Robin Vos agreed with his cousin, saying that for people who work in situations of life and death, road conditions make a “really big difference.”
While Robin Vos works to point out ways that road conditions have serious negative impacts, the true debate of road funding lies in how the money would be raised. Vos and other politicians wish to raise the gas tax to fund construction projects.
Currently, Gov. Scott Walker opposes raising taxes and said he won’t agree to raise gas taxes unless other tax cuts are made of equal monetary value in other areas.
Other lawmakers agree with Walker’s plan. State Sens. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, expressed support of Walker’s plan. In a statement released today, Kapenga and Stroebel said that if Vos succeeded in raising the gas tax, Wisconsin’s gas tax would double and the state would have the highest in the nation.
“We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem,” Kapenga said. “That’s where the focus needs to be, which is why I support Governor Walker’s plan, where taxes are not raised.”
Vos called Stroebel’s and Kapenga’s statement “fear mongering.” In their statement, Stroebel and Kapenga alleged that Vos suggested a 91 percent gas tax increase. In his own statement, Vos said this suggestion was false, and that it was “nothing short of fear mongering.”
To help mitigate the issue, Walker said that Assembly leaders like Vos who support highway spending should prepare a plan explaining their ideas for the transportation budget.
"If the Assembly leadership’s plan is to raise taxes it would come as a surprise to November voters," Walker said. "They should make their plan public so the people understand exactly how much it would cost them."
The issue of funding will continue in the spotlight, as the state faces a potential $1 billion gap in road funding over the next two years.
The Assembly Transportation Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss how to proceed, including other revenue options like tolling.