UW-Milwaukee: Wisconsin economic scorecard finds strong opposition for transportation tax

Contact: Laura L. Otto
Phone: (414) 229-6447
Email: [email protected]

A recent poll by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) shows strong opposition among state voters to a plan that would increase the gas tax and auto fees to fill a projected $750 million shortfall in the state transportation fund. The poll also reports split opinions on the proposed Kenosha tribal casino and the Milwaukee Bucks arena “jock tax” financing plan.

These are the latest results of the Wisconsin Economic Scorecard, a quarterly poll of Wisconsin residents conducted by the UWM Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) in cooperation with Milwaukee Public Radio (WUWM 89.7) and WisBusiness.com. The survey measures perceptions of the health of Wisconsin’s economy, personal economic circumstances of Wisconsin residents, and public opinion regarding important state economic issues.

A majority of Wisconsin voters – 61 percent – oppose a plan under consideration that recommends increasing the gasoline tax, a higher annual registration fee for hybrid and electric vehicles, a fee on the purchase of new vehicles, and a transfer of tax revenues from the state’s general fund to the transportation fund.

Voters are split on the issue of a proposed new Menominee tribal casino in Kenosha, Wis., with 48 percent who believe the governor should approve the plan, while 44 percent say he should block it. Opposition to the casino has increased significantly since December 2013 when 32 percent opposed the new casino.

A plan to help finance a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks with a $150 million bond backed by diverting income tax revenues paid to the state by Bucks athletes and employees evenly divides Wisconsin voters, with 47 percent opposed and 47 percent in favor. However, supporters outnumber opponents 52 to 44 percent within the seven-county metro Milwaukee region.

Other major findings:

– While a majority of Wisconsin residents (55 percent) now evaluate their personal financial circumstances in positive terms, net evaluations of the wider state economy remain negative; 63 percent say Wisconsin’s overall recent economic performance is “fair” or “poor.”

– Regarding the overall direction of the state, about 59 percent of residents say Wisconsin is “headed in the right direction,” while just under 42 percent say the state is “on the wrong track.”

The research brief for the scorecard is available at


This poll is a random digit dial telephone survey of 429 Wisconsin residents conducted from Dec. 1-4. Margin of error: All respondents ±4.7% registered voters ±4.9%.