MADISON — The majority of Wisconsinites are opposed to raising the gas tax to help pay for the state’s roads, setting up a road block for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers as he and other lawmakers attempt to find a solution to transportation funding.
The finding is one of many from the latest Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday, which shows that Wisconsin voters otherwise largely support the major initiatives Evers proposed in his budget, save for a few.
The majority of those polled support Evers’ plans to legalize marijuana, majorly increase state aid for special education, accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage and increase the minimum wage, all of which have received criticism or outright opposition from Republicans.
However, a gas tax increase isn’t the only proposal from Evers that most voters aren’t warming up to. Only 41% of those polled support freezing the number of students in voucher schools and a suspension of new independent charter schools, while 46% are opposed.
The poll, which sampled 800 registered voters between April 3 and 7, comes as Evers and Republican leaders wade into a budget debate that has already generated discord.
Evers’ budget plan, introduced at the end of February, proposed sweeping reforms largely supported by Democrats, prompting Republicans to slam it as a liberal wish list that spends too much and undermines the legacy of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Evers’ approval rating is at 47%, with 37% disapproving of the job he’s doing four months into his term.
The Republican-controlled Legislature was doing better. Its approval rating was 50 percent with 38 percent opposed.
One of the only major initiatives the governor proposed to be rejected by the majority of voters is an increase in the gas tax and registration fees. Fifty-seven percent of respondents oppose such a hike, while 39% say they would support it.
Opposition has grown since the last time the poll was conducted in January.
Evers in his state budget called for an 8 cent per gallon immediate increase in the gas tax that would be raised to about 10 cents by 2021.
The current state gas tax is 32.9 cents per gallon. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.
In attempt to offset the increase, Evers proposed to eliminate the minimum markup on gasoline, which requires retailers to increase the price of gas by 9.18% above the average wholesale price.
Evers has said doing so would lower the price of gas by about 14 cents per gallon, however, the actual effect of the proposal is unclear.
Gas tax proposal
A Republican legislator is introducing a bill that would require state officials to post the gas tax rate on fuel pumps.
Rep. Rob Hutton announced the bill Wednesday. The measure would require the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to design a sticker identifying the federal and state gas tax and place it on fuel pumps during annual inspections.
Reporting from the Associated Press contributed to this story.