Buyers Remorse? Business Groups Reject GOP’s $750 Million Tax Increase Proposal

Nov 23, 2014

A coalition of 10 Wisconsin business groups is opposing a recent proposal from Scott Walker’s administration that would impose a $750 million tax hike impacting drivers in the state.

In a statement the groups questioned, “whether the amount of the revenue increases proposed by the Department of Transportation are appropriate.”

Signing on to the statement were Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Cooperative Network, National Federation of Independent Business, the Wisconsin Auto & Truck Dealers Association, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the Wisconsin Housing Alliance, the Wisconsin-Minnesota Petroleum Council, the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association, and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

The proposal includes a gas tax increase that will average about $27 per year, per driver, a new vehicle fee increase of about $800 for the average new car, imposes higher fees for electric and hybrid cars, and a higher tax on diesel fuel.

One of the leading voices of opposition, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, has spent millions in support of Scott Walker’s campaigns and is a named party in the second John Doe criminal corruption probe that is investigating illegal coordination between the Walker campaign and outside interest groups.

Scott Walker previously opposed increasing the gas tax; in 1995 then-Rep. Walker was one of 10 legislators to revolt, successfully, against Gov. Tommy Thompson’s proposal to increase taxes and fees to fund road construction projects and as recently as this summer Walker criticized increasing the gas tax as not a “good long-term solution for transportation.”

What’s changed since 1995? As Walker’s political stock has risen, so have contributions from special interests. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign estimates that Walker has received nearly $900,000 from road-building special interests since 2008.

“What did Scott Walker promise these special interests to get their cash during the campaign that they now aren’t getting?” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “It sounds like there’s a major case of buyer’s remorse as it becomes clear that the influence special interests thought they purchased comes second to Scott Walker’s presidential campaign.”