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Bill would let voters increase taxes for roadwork

By: Matt Taub, [email protected]//April 21, 2015//

Bill would let voters increase taxes for roadwork

By: Matt Taub, [email protected]//April 21, 2015//

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Two Wisconsin legislators are proposing legislation that would allow voters to approve a half-percent increase in the state sales tax to pay for local roadwork in their county or municipality.

State Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, and state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, announced the new legislation Tuesday. In a memorandum to their legislative colleagues, they advised they are seeking co-sponsors to the bill, known as LRB 2056/1—Local Transportation Revenue.

“Based upon the recent successes of referenda under Wisconsin’s levy limit law for school districts, and in recognition of the need for our municipalities and counties to build and maintain safe roads,” the memo stated, “we are introducing a measure that, with the approval of the voters, allows for additional transportation revenue.”

The legislation provides that if the voters in a county or a municipality approve an increase in a referendum held during a spring or fall general election, that county or municipality may levy a half-percent sales tax for the purpose of maintaining and repairing roads. The tax may not last longer than four years, but may be renewed in a subsequent referendum.

If approved by voters, the money collected by the tax may only be used for road repair or maintenance. If the tax is allowed to expire, or is rejected by the voters, there is a mandatory one-year “cooling off period” before the county or municipality can place the proposal on the ballot again.

In Milwaukee County, a 2008 referendum for a 1-cent increase on the sales tax for parks and cultural institutions was approved by voters, but never enacted by state government.

At the same time, recent analysis of Wisconsin Department of Transportation data by a pair of transportation-advocacy groups found that a large part of the $850 million state officials want to spend on widening Interstate 94 could instead go to many southeastern Wisconsin roads that are in urgent need of repair.


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