Yesterday, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee tossed us a couple of curve balls.
First, they postponed the scheduled vote on Complete Streets and TAP from this Thursday until sometime next week.
Second, they’ve introduced a new wrinkle into the debate: a tax on bikes. What’s being proposed is a one time $25 registration fee, which would be paid upon the “initial” purchase of a bike, implying that it would be charged only on new bikes. The proceeds, which are estimated to be about $7 million over the two-year state budget, would be deposited into the Transportation Fund, but not earmarked for bicycle infrastructure.
The Bike Fed strongly opposes the bike tax. While we don’t oppose some sort of revenue stream to support improvements for bikeways, that revenue source would have to equitable, dedicated to projects that benefit cyclists, and efficient to collect. The legislature shouldn’t be imposing a significant new tax without any study and without asking for feedback from the cycling public or the biking industry in our state.
Bicycling is a $1.5 billion industry in Wisconsin supporting some 14,000 jobs. We can’t think of another industry that the legislature would target for increased taxes. In fact, this governor and legislature have been active in looking for ways to cut taxes on business. So, wouldn’t it make sense to consult with the people who make bikes and employ thousands before proposing a tax that could hurt their sales?
And what about bicycle buyers themselves? Don’t most of us drive as well and pay gas taxes and registration fees that support these projects already? And even for those dedicated cyclists who don’t drive much, aren’t they saving all kinds societal costs by reducing wear and tear on our roads, the need to build expensive parking, and in air and water pollution that is reduced because they bike?
One option the Joint Finance Committee will consider when they finally take up the Complete Streets issue is a study committee to look at whatever concerns there are about that program. If they want to add consideration of a dedicated revenue source for bicycle infrastructure the Bike Fed would be happy to be part of that discussion. We’re always happy to explore and share ideas in an open, informed and deliberative process.
But to just toss out an idea for a bike tax at the eleventh hour in the midst of a complex and huge state budget is just reckless. Please join us in voicing your opposition to the bike tax.
Send a Message to the Joint Finance Committee
Use the form below to send a message to the members of the state Joint Finance Committee and tell them that bicycling matters to Wisconsin