Oil Tax Marches Forward in Wisconsin

By June 27, 2007Energy

A lot of Wisconsin state Senators appear eager to follow Gov. Hugo Doyle and pass unpopular, unworkable and unconstitutional tax increases on the oil companies, because big oil is bad. Anyway, Doyle’s 2.5 percent tax on fuel sold in Wisconsin — and he wants to make it illegal for companies to pass on to consumers — passed the Senate yesterday. While not knowing too much about Wisconsin politics, it seems likely that the BIG-TAX-ON-BIG-OIL supporters are making a very risky choice with the electorate.

From the Wisconsin Radio Network:

According to analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Senate Democrats’ version of the budget totals over $66 billion — compared to Governor Doyle’s original request of $58 billion.

A tax on “big oil” makes the cut in the Senate budget. It was a big part of Governor Jim Doyle’s budget proposal: go after oil companies to help finance Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure. After all, said Wausau Democrat, Senator Russ Decker, “they can afford it.” The Doyle administration has maintained it can prevent oil companies from passing the tax on to Wisconsin drivers. Minority Leader Fitzgerald still skeptical about that. Fitzgerald also ticked off a long list of tax increases included in the Senate Democrats’ budget, including taxes on hospital profits and an increase in the cigarette tax. A conference committee will eventually iron out differences with the Republican controlled state Assembly’s version of the budget.

Hmmm. A split legislature. Perhaps Governor Hugo and the Senate majority have a fall-back position: A straight increase in the tax on motor vehicle fuels, abandoning the unconstitutional gimmickry. That’s a familiar maneuver in state capitols.

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