An Open Letter to the Wisconsin State Assembly: It's Time to Stop the Automatic Gas Tax Hike!

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than 9,400 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in Wisconsin, I urge you to take quick and decisive action to provide needed restraint on the state?s gas tax, which is now among the highest nationwide. Recently, your colleagues in the Wisconsin State Senate voted in favor of ending the automatic annual increase in the state?s gas tax when they passed Senate Bill 331. NTU urges you to support this plan by also voting to end the unfair and un-democratic tax-hike mechanism that ensnares motorists.

According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Wisconsin holds the dubious honor of having the 3rd-highest state gasoline excise tax in the nation. When a customer pulls up to a gas station in the state he or she pays 29.1 cents per gallon alone in state gas taxes. Combined with an 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax, this means Wisconsin residents are paying over 47 cents per gallon just for taxes, or the equivalent of $7.12 on a 15-gallon fill-up.

Wisconsinites are dealt another cruel blow every April 1st when this already high gas tax rate is automatically indexed upward for inflation. Counting the two scheduled increases between now and April 1, 2007, state gas taxes are projected to jump to 31.3 cents per gallon in less than two years. This pre-ordained gas tax hike is no April Fools? joke for citizens filling up their gas tanks who, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, spent an extra $3.2 billion from 1985 through 2004 just to cover the costs of the automatic tax increase. Indeed, wiping away this insidious scheme would save Wisconsin residents over $5.1 million over the length of the current budget, buttressed by another $75.1 million in savings over the next two-year budget.

While the political temptation to make unpopular tax increases ?automatic? might be strong, the people paying these taxes deserve to have the merits of such moves debated by their elected officials in a public forum. Given the price spikes associated with Hurricane Katrina and other supply disruptions that have been plaguing motorists for much of 2005, now is the time to take an involved role in preventing a rising tax burden from worsening an energy situation whose stability remains questionable. Your active leadership would ensure that beleaguered Wisconsin motorists can better cope with this economically uncertain time.

We look forward to working with you on this important matter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or if we can be of any assistance.


Kristina Rasmussen

Government Affairs Manager