Last week Assembly Republicans saw their plan to tax heavy trucks shot down by several members of the state Senate and a coalition of business groups. Now Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Joint Finance Committee Member Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, are throwing up their hands and asking those business groups to identify how they would solve the transportation funding issue.

In a memo to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and 16 other business organizations, the Assembly Republicans said the business organizations have until Monday to offer their ideas.

“Time is of the essence,” the memo said in bold type. “In order to be considered part of a potential solution, we ask that you please get back to us by Monday, July 10 with how you would propose to close the $1 billion deficit so we can upgrade the roads that you depend on to run your businesses.”

As Bill Osmulski at the MacIver Institute has pointed out, the transportation budget “shortfall” is closer to $449 million, not $1 billion as the memo indicated.

Scott Manley, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for WMC, responded in a statement that he’s pleased that the tax on heavy trucks appears to be dead and that he accepts Vos’ challenge to offer ideas. However, Wisconsin is already overtaxed and that any solution must include controlling spending.

“Reasonable people may disagree on how much additional revenue is needed, but we hope everyone can agree that overspending by $3 billion on 16 projects is unacceptable,” Manley said.

“Wisconsin is already overburdened by taxes,” Manley said. “Any discussion of revenue increases must include meaningful reforms to reduce costs and spend our current resources more wisely. WMC is encouraged that DOT Secretary Dave Ross is already making progress in this regard.”

The Associated Press is reporting Neal Kedzie, president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, says Vos knows the organization is in favor of raising the gas tax and taking 100 percent of the sales tax on rental cars and auto parts for the transportation budget.