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AASHTO Journal

More States Weigh Motor Fuel Tax Increases to Pay for Transportation Project Needs

With motor fuel prices remaining at lower levels than just a few years ago while roads, bridges and other transportation facilities continue to need repair or replacement, more states are looking at funding measures this year that include hiking fuel taxes.

capitol0816.jpg Reuters reported that 21 state legislatures will consider bills that increase gas taxes, including some that have gone decades since they raised the user fee that most closely reflects consumer demand for the roadway network.

It is partly a reflection, too, the story says, of a "post-election period that gives politicians the space to tackle controversial issues," according to Carl Davis, research director at the non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The roster includes five traditionally tax-averse states that have not raised their fuel tax rates since the 1980s or earlier, Reuters said. They are Alaska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, whose legislatures are currently debating fuel tax proposals.

In some, the proposals follow years of public discussion of transportation needs by key officials, while in some states lawmakers and the public have yet to coalesce around particular revenue ideas.

"It's very unusual at the state level to see a measure proposed and then immediately enacted," Joung Lee, policy director at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told Reuters. "It usually takes several bites at the apple," he said.

AASHTO tracks state funding proposals. A list of current state proposals is available here.

2/10/2017
Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.