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Our View: Economy can't take another gas tax hike

The economy is in a tailspin, and rising gas prices are as much to blame as anything.

But just when motorists thought it couldn't get any worse, a proposal to increase the federal gas tax has surfaced.

The idea is to boost the current 18-cent tax to 40 cents, in an effort to gather more funds for repairs to the nation's bridges and roads.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi testified in Washington, D.C. on April 2 in favor of the move.

The support is a classic case of bad timing.

Federal officials claim the nation's infrastructure is in serious need of additional cash flow. We wouldn't argue that point.

They say that doubling the federal gas tax will not solve the problem, but will be the first step toward improving our roads.

The real answer, however, isn't taxing the public more and thus crushing the economy even further.

The fiscally responsible answer is prioritizing the money the government already receives from taxpayers.

One solution is a proposal to eliminate "earmarks" that fund pet projects of U.S. senators and representatives. A number of elected officials favor the move, including U.S. Rep. Ron Kind who represents this part of the state, but there are not enough votes to push the measure forward.

The elimination of such funding schemes would free up millions (or actually billions) for road and bridge projects across the nation.