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A proposal from Evers, which was ultimately rejected by Republican lawmakers, would have increased the gas tax by 8-cents per gallon and tied future increases to inflation.
A new report shows gas taxes would be 11.1 cents higher today, if it had gone into effect
At the same time, the governor pushed to end the state’s “minimum markup law” on gasoline, which would have cushioned or even offset the blow.
But there is debate about whether there would be long-term savings from such a change, since other factors play important roles in pricing.
Gas prices may be falling a bit, but the rhetoric around them keeps rising.
The latest example came April 7, 2022 in an attack on Gov. Tony Evers on Twitter from state Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, which is in Juneau County:
"Everyone is feeling pain at the pump. It started well over a year ago. Diesel fuel in Sept 2020 was $2.09, six months later in March 2021 $2.99. If @GovEvers had passed his tax increases, these fuel prices would be at least a dime higher."
In an April 1, 2022 fact-check, we rated a claim in a TV ad that Evers "tried to make us pay even more at the pump" Half True, in large part because the claim focused on his intent and a related move at the time would have cushioned the blow.
But this one is framed differently, and looked at in context, it focuses more narrowly on the proposed gas tax increase and its would-be impact on prices today.
Is Kurtz right that if Evers "had passed his (gas) tax increases ... fuel prices would be at least a dime higher?"
When asked to provide backup for the claim, Kurtz’s staff referred PolitiFact Wisconsin to a March 31, 2022, memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau titled "Estimate of Proposed Motor Fuel Tax Revenues."
The memo looked at a proposal from Evers in his 2019-21 budget that would have increased the motor vehicle fuel tax by eight cents per gallon – and then tied future increases to inflation, which is known as indexing. The measure failed in the Republican-controlled Legislature, but the analysis estimated the change would have brought in $725 million for transportation funding, if it had been in effect.
For our purposes here, we are most interested in where the gas tax would be today.
According to the fiscal bureau, once indexing was factored in, as of April 1, 2022 the state gas tax would have been 42 cents per gallon, or 11.1 cents higher than where it is today, without the increase (30.9 cents per gallon).
That said, in the tweet, Kurtz only provided part of the picture.
The plan from Evers also included a proposal to eliminate the state’s longstanding minimum markup law for gasoline.
The minimum markup law was created during the Great Depression to protect small business from larger rivals. The law mandates a price floor where goods like gas, groceries, and beer are "marked up" so they are not used as "loss leaders" at a price level where the other businesses can’t compete.
The idea from Evers was to offset the pain at the pump for drivers. But a fiscal bureau report at the time noted there are many factors at play in pricing, and there is no guarantee that any savings from removing minimum markup would stay in place.
That means, once you set aside the intent of the Evers plan, and focus more narrowly on the numbers, it yields a different result.
Kurtz said if Evers "had passed his (gas) tax increases ... fuel prices would be at least a dime higher."
By the numbers, a new analysis from the fiscal bureau shows prices would be 11.1 cents higher. That said, Kurtz skips over the fact the pocketbook may have been smaller, given the accompanying plan to eliminate the minimum markup law for gasoline.
For a statement that is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, our rating is Mostly True.
State Rep. Tony Kurtz, Twitter, April 7, 2022
Email, Ellen Schutt, Rep. Kurtz research assistant, April 14, 2022
GasBuddy, April 14, 2022, gas price per gallon.
Car and Driver "Gas Prices Drop Two Weeks in a Row, and Now E15 Gas Will Be Allowed over Summer," April 12, 2022
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, "Estimate of Proposed Motor Fuel Tax Revenues," March 31, 2022
PolitiFact Wisconsin Ad "Says Gov. Tony Evers "tried to make us pay even more at the pump by hiking the gas tax," April 1, 2022.
Legislative Fiscal Bureau Summary of Governor’s annual budget 2019-21 "Transportation."
State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue "Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax,"
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