Federal, State Lawmakers Eye Increases to Gas Tax

Lawmakers at both the federal and state level are saying they will consider raising fuel taxes to fund much needed highway infrastructure projects. Recently Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a Democrat on the House Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, said President Obama should support a fuel tax increase. In addition, Rep. Bill Shuster (R.-Pa.), has said he would consider raising fuel taxes to fund the highway program.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he’s considering indexing the gas tax to inflation as part of his transportation funding plan for the 2013 Congressional session. The statement comes on the heels of Virginia Sen. John Watkins' announcement that he is creating a transportation funding proposal that would apply a sales tax to gasoline, eliminate several tax exemptions and lower some income tax brackets. In addition, as reported in last week's NNW, a growing number of state groups have voiced opposition to Gov. McDonnell's plan to toll Interstate 95 in Virginia. 

In Iowa several advocacy groups have said they will continue pushing for an increase in the state's gasoline tax to better address transportation needs. A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said the governor would look favorably on raising tax revenue for roads and bridges only if the proposal were contained “within a broad, overall tax reform package that reduces taxes on all Iowans.”

Officials in Massachusetts have said "everything" remains on the table to increase transportation funds, including tolls and fuel tax increases. The governor is expected to deliver a proposal by Jan. 7 calling for more robust taxes. In Wisconsin, Craig Thompson, executive director of the Transportation Development Association, said the state is seriously considering increasing the gas tax and increasing vehicle registration fees. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett hasn't specifically called for an increase to the gas tax, but said he soon will propose and lobby for a legislative plan to pay toward fixing the state's $3.5 billion in transportation needs. A commission Corbett created last year suggested several ways to raise funds, including lifting the cap on the state's oil franchise tax and increasing fees for auto registrations and driver's licenses.

 

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This article originally ran in NATSO News Weekly (NNW), NATSO's member only weekly electronic newsletter. NNW is packed with the latest updates on government and business issues affecting the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

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