GOP May Consider Heavy Truck Fee to Pay for Roads

June 14, 2017

Semi-Truck

A per-mile fee on heavy trucks that could raise more than $250 million in two years has surfaced as a possible funding source to pay for Wisconsin’s transportation budget. But the trucking industry, which has contributed nearly $1.2 million to legislative and statewide candidates, opposes the plan.

Major road funding has become one of the stalemates between Assembly and Senate Republicans, who control the legislature, during their consideration of GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2017-19 state budget. The Assembly GOP want to raise state gasoline taxes and reduce borrowing. But Walker and Senate Republicans favor borrowing and continued major road project delays because they oppose tax and vehicle registration fee increases. Walker is also leaning in favor of toll roads.  

Kentucky, New York, New Mexico, and Oregon impose fees on heavy trucks, according to Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, of Clinton, who floated the truck-fee plan. If Wisconsin adopted Kentucky's 2.85 cents per mile fee, it would raise more than $250 million for the state over two years, Loudenbeck said.

But the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, which is headed by former GOP Sen. Neil Kedzie, opposes the plan, and the trucking industry is an avid campaign contributor.

Between January 2010 and December 2016, the trucking industry contributed nearly $1.2 million in individual and political action committee contributions to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates. Topping the list of contributions from the trucking industry was Walker, who received about $702,600. Walker must ultimately approve the plan if lawmakers add it to his proposed 2017-19 state budget.

Trucking industry contributions to current lawmakers between January 2010 and December 2016 totaled nearly $283,000. Republicans received nearly $267,200 of those contributions. Topping the list of trucking industry contributions was GOP Rep. John Spiros, of Marshfield, about $35,760; the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $30,640; and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $25,950. Spiros is Roehl Transport’s vice president of safety and a member of the Trucking Industry Defense Association.

Loudenbeck has received $1,100 in contributions from trucking interests.