Truck-mileage fee proposal meets fierce opposition in Wisconsin

July 5, 2017
State struggles to reach new budget agreement

A proposal in the Wisconsin legislature to create a mileage-based fee on trucks to help fund highway improvements was met with fierce opposition from business groups.

The proposal by state Rep Amy Loudenbeck (R) estimated it would create $138 million annually. The fee would charge 2.85 a mile on commercial trucks weighing 59,000 lbs. It was supported by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), but five senators came out in opposition, meaning it could not gain enough support for passage. 

Neal Kedzie, president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association (WMCA), told Fleet Owner the idea appears to be dead, but "anything can happen" because there is not yet an agreement on a new budget. The tax currently only exists in Kentucky, Oregon, New York, and New Mexico.

In late June, the WMCA, Schneider National, Walmart, and Roehl Transport were among more than a dozen business groups filing a letter in opposition to the idea.

“The Wisconsin trucking industry alone paid 38 percent of all taxes owed by Wisconsin motorists last year, pay some of the highest trucking registration fees in the nation, and will continue to bear the brunt of additional efforts on taxes and other revenue generating mechanisms that won’t disappear once this budget is completed,” the groups wrote.

The letter added there is no ton-mile collection system in operation in Wisconsin and “targeting heavy trucks . . . will raise the cost to do business here in Wisconsin, resulting in less routes through the state, increased prices for consumers and curtail new investment.”

State lawmakers failed to reach a new budget deal by July 1. As a result, spending levels from the previous two-year budget are carrying over. State officials have said if the stalemate continues it could delay road construction.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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