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Committee takes up Doyle oil tax, constitutionality questioned

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New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Gov. Jim Doyle admits his proposed tax on oil company profits will probably go to court if it's approved.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee could decide today (Thursday) if the 2.5 percent tax on oil sales in Wisconsin should be part of the state budget for the next two years.

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The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group released three legal opinions Wednesday which raised questions about the idea.

One is from Peg Lautenschlager, former state attorney general, who says a strong case could be made that the tax is unconstitutional.

Despite Doyle's promise of jail time for oil executives who pass the tax onto consumers, many experts believe it will happen.

WMC expects a 7 cent a gallon increase.

Erin Roth of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council expects one or more oil companies to challenge the tax in court.

Doyle says big oil needs to be punished for what he calls unjustifiable increases in pump prices.

Labor unions and road builders also favor the tax. It would bring in an extra $275 million over the next two years, much of it going to the road builders for new and improved highways.

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