State School Finance Spaghetti Blowback

Earlier this year, recently re-elected Governor Jim Doyle creatively used his line item veto power to move funds from transportation and other areas of the state budget to public school funds. Wisconsin citizens may have some “blowback” from that decision in the form of higher vehicle registration fees. This Wisconsin State Journal editorial has more information:

But that’s no excuse for sticking it to the little guy who already pays one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.
The DOT is proposing a 45-percent increase, from $55 to $80, in the annual registration fee for cars.
The governor and Legislature should quickly reject the proposed $25 hike. They also should be wary of even bigger increases proposed for registration fees on light trucks.
The higher vehicle registration fees would bring in an additional $208 million to state coffers over the next two budget years. The DOT says the money is needed to fix roads and to rebuild Interstate 94 south of Milwaukee.
The road work may be justified. But motorists shouldn’t get soaked just because state leaders are mismanaging the state’s money.
State leaders — the governor and the Legislature — have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from the transportation fund in recent years and spent it on other things such as public schools. To avoid road construction delays, our state leaders then borrowed money to make up the difference.

Patrick Marley has more:

The car registration fee would rise 46%, from $55 to $80. The department also wants to raise the registration fee for light trucks to $80 to $112, depending on their weight.
The changes would raise the cost of a license from $24 to $34 to cover the cost of new federal requirements to make identification cards more secure. Licenses are good for eight years.
The recommendations were due two months ago as part of the agency’s budget request, but the department didn’t submit them until Friday – three days after Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was re-elected. The department noted that for years it had filed its requests about two months later than other agencies.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more:

At the same time, the governor and the Legislature can help future DOT budgets by not raiding the transportation fund to fill holes elsewhere in the state budget, something that has occurred too often in recent years and is one of the reasons for the transportation department’s structural deficit.
Drivers should not be taxed by the state twice, once on income and once in fees, to meet the education budget, for example. The fees and the gasoline tax should be reserved for transportation.

A useful reminder that increased local (property taxes), state (income, sales taxes and fees) or federal (income, fees) spending on education ends up coming from the same sources. blowback