How a Gas Tax Increase Would Hurt Wisconsin Tourism

A gas tax is one of the harshest ways youcan penalize a blue collar family in my opinion.

A GAS TAX INCREASE IN WISCONSIN IS OPPOSEDBY A SMALL GROUP OF SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WHO RELY ON TOURISTS FOR THEIR LIVELIHOODS.

THE MACIVER INSTITUTE SAT DOWN WITH THE FOURSMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TO DISCUSS THE IMPACT A GAS TAX HIKE WOULD HAVE ON THEM AND WISCONSIN’STOURISM INDUSTRY.

We own a charter fishing operation out onLake Michigan.

It’s been a family owned business since1969.

80 percent of our business is out of state.

My business is boat repair and storage.

We do work on all different types of fishingvessels that come over to use Lake Michigan.

Tourists consist of probably 70 percent ofmy customers.

My business is my family, so when I say mybusiness I’m discussing my family.

I operate a charter service out of Kenosha.

The majority of my business, about 96-97 percentis out of Wisconsin business, out of state business.

I’ve been in business now, Dumper Dan’s,for 31 years.

I started in 1985.

I employ, currently, roughly 28 people.

THEY ALL AGREED A FIVE CENT INCREASE IN THEGAS TAX WOULD ADD TREMENDOUS COSTS TO THEIR ALREADY THIN PROFIT MARGINS, POSSIBLY FORCINGCUTBACKS.

Oh, it’s huge.

I mean we burn 35,000 gallons of fuel perseason.

So, at a nickel, that adds up quite quickly.

We go through thousands upon thousands ofgallons a year in fuel, and it’s definitely going to hurt our pocketbook as well.

We might have to cut back in advertising,we’re going to have to cut back somewhere if we have to put it in the gas tank to getthe people out to the fish.

Fuel is one of our major costs.

The price of energy drives everything.

The higher it is, the less we do.

When you’re working on such small margins,any percentage affects things greatly.

I mean, that’s more money we could throwinto advertising the state of Wisconsin to get more people here.

A HIGHER GAS TAX IN WISCONSIN WOULD NOT JUSTINCREASE THEIR COSTS, BUT IT WOULD DISCOURAGE TRAVELERS FROM VISITING THE STATE IN THE FIRSTPLACE.

When the fuel prices are lower, people seemto be more apt to go do something else.

It’s a lot better when you can fill yourgas tank for $40 versus 80.

Gas is a major consideration in their expensefor that vacation.

Another increase at a time when the priceof fuel has finally settled back down is definitely going to change travel plans for some of mycustomers.

It would have a very large impact on our business.

That 8 hour drive, 5 hour to Minneapolis giveor take, people start looking at larger dollar amounts for fuel, and they’re aren’t goingto make as many reservations or any at all.

AND WHILE PROPONENTS OF A GAS TAX HIKE TELLUS OUR ROADS ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF REPAIR, OUT-OF-STATE TOURISTS APPARENTLY SEE A DIFFERENTPICTURE WHILE TRAVELING ON WISCONSIN’S ROADWAYS.

I actually have quite a few of my clientsmake reference to how nice Wisconsin’s roads are.

Our roads are in great shape in Wisconsin,they really are.

We get a lot of compliments from customershow clean Wisconsin is and how well-maintained the roads are.

I don’t see us having a big issue with thatright now.

ACCORDING TO THESE FOUR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS,A GAS TAX INCREASE WOULD HAVE A RIPPLE EFFECT, MAKING WISCONSIN LESS TOURIST FRIENDLY ANDHAMPERING AN INDUSTRY THAT HAD A $19.

3 BILLION IMPACT ON THE STATE’S ECONOMY IN 2015.

Why we would want to put ourselves in a lesscompetitive position with our neighboring states is beyond me.

It’s going to definitely slow down out ofstate tourism, there’s no doubt.

I mean, we’re not going to have as manycoming in from all over the midwest to tour Wisconsin.

And it might not be just with fishing, itcould be with all our great golf courses, it could be the Door County peninsula.

They’re not going to come see all that.

Our motto in Wisconsin since Governor Walker’sbeen elected has been ‘we’re open for business,’ and it totally flies in the faceof we’re open for business if you’re going to put a tax on a commodity that all businessesdepend on.

FOR THE MACIVER INSTITUTE, I’M JEN HEALY.

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