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Senator Fitzgerald Calls Gas Tax Hike a Non-starter

Statements by legislative leaders over the past week reveal how the Legislature plans to resolve the challenge of financing the state’s transportation needs, highlighting cost savings over raising new revenues.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) issued a statement that an increase in the state’s gas tax is “a non-starter in the State Senate.” Three weeks ago, Senator Fitzgerald had issued another statement that “the Legislature must address any policy that artificially increases the financial burden on Wisconsin’s taxpayers,” specifically referencing the state’s prevailing wage and project labor agreement laws.
Late last week, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) issued a similar statement on finding cost savings particularly by changing or eliminating the state’s prevailing wage laws. After efforts to reduce unnecessary spending are made, Rep. Steineke stated that a significant gap in transportation spending will likely remain and also called for considering some new revenue options.
The prevailing wage laws were adopted in the 1930s and ensure that workers on government construction projects are paid at an industry average, though comparatively few firms report wage data to the state and the bottom half of that data is removed from consideration. A proposal to repeal the state’s prevailing wage laws, Assembly Bill 32, was introduced this week by Representative Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) with particularly strong support among Assembly Republicans.
Considerable additional debate will occur between now and June, when the state budget is expected to pass the Legislature.  But the Legislature’s attention has shifted to containing costs before considering new revenue increases.




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