A Republican State Senator is Pushing For an Increase in Texas' Gas Tax

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Via.
Texas' highways are in bad need of repair.
Texas' 20-cent-per-gallon gas tax hasn't changed since 1991. That's despite the erosion of the tax's purchasing power -- the Wall Street Journal estimates that the gas tax buys half as much concrete, steel, and other materials as they did 20 years ago -- and a glaring need -- the state comptroller's office estimates the $3 billion per year spent each year by the state will need to more than quadruple by 2030 to meet needs. TxDOT's executive director, Phil Wilson has said the agency needs an additional $4 billion per year right now for maintenance and new construction.

State Senator Kevin Eltife, a Republican from Tyler, thinks this means it's time for an increase. Yesterday, at the Texas Transportation Forum, he said the state should immediately tack on $.10 per gallon, then index the tax to inflation so the state won't face a gaping road funding shortfall in 20 years on the off chance that legislators are completely unwilling to support a tax increase.

That would bring in an extra $1.1 billion per year for highways, based on current fuel usage, and go some way toward bridging the widening funding gap. But ... a tax increase? In Texas? Proposed by a Republican?

"It is what it is," Eltife said, according to the Morning News. "I was fine before I got this job. If they kick me out of office, I'll be fine."

Courageous, but not unprecedented. A fuel tax increase has been floated before, often by Republicans. State Senator John Carona, Republican from Dallas, authored a 2009 bill. Last session Senator Steve Ogden, a Bryan Republican, proposed putting a constitutional amendment before voters, who would decide whether to add a nickel to the gas tax.

Both efforts failed in the face of staunch opposition from Governor Rick Perry and other lawmakers.

Little seems to have changed on that front. Sharing the stage with Eltife at the Texas Transportation Forum, Sherman Republican Representative Larry Phillips, who chairs the House Transportation Chairman, said a gas tax increase "is not my favorite choice" because it will decline as fuel efficiency inevitably improves.

That's true as far as it goes, but there don't seem to be many realistic options for addressing the state's transportation needs. Taxing electric cars won't do it. There are too few, and it seems that the state should be promoting, not discouraging, fuel-efficiency.

Long-term, the solution might be some form of tax based on the number of vehicle-miles driven, so that electric cars bear some of the cost for driving on state roads. Such a measure was proposed last session. It got nowhere.

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19 comments
kduble
kduble

The problem with a vehicle-miles tax is that an 18-wheeler and a motorcycle shouldn't pay the same. But they wouldn't, you say, because we'd make allowance for that. But, should an F-250 pickup and a Daimler Smartcar pay the same? You assure me, no. We'd make adjustments for that. Does this mean an SUV would pay the same as a Mini-Cooper? Of course not, you say. The heavier vehicle places more wear-and-tear on the road, so we'd adjust the vehicle-miles tax to compensate.

Thus, the more fair we try to make a vehicle-miles tax, the more complex it becomes, and the more closely it resembles our current motor fuels tax, which isn't complicated, and wouldn't cost even a single slim dime to administer because it's already in place. Raise the damn tax!

Here's a simple idea: Simply remove the current exemption motor fuels enjoy from the state sales tax so they'd pay this as well. At current prices, this would double the revenue. And when prices go down, we'd still enjoy the hedge of the 20 cents-per-gallon.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

"Extreme resistance to governmental taxation and authority is derived, according to Freud’s theory of anal characterology, from premature and harshly coercive toilet training, in which a child is forced unfairly and against its will to surrender the products of his eliminations (which represent money, among other things, in the unconscious) to parental authority. Among these individuals anal eroticism plays a significant role in the psychogenesis of paranoia and conspiracy theorizing, which may represent a defense mechanism erected against repressed fears of passive submission."

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Gas tax is not going to cover it.  Increased fuel savings will erode its effectiveness.  Toll roads are the solution.  You use that road, you pay for that road.  We ought to have that approach for more government services. 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Think of all the anti-abortion programs we could fund with that. And we could give every newborn a Glock 9mm! And build a wall on the border (of course contractors must be GOP donors)! Or we could cut taxes for "job creators" so they have bigger piles of money to sleep on.

Just imagine the possibilities! Oh wait, the highways are falling apart? Suck it up!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

And what guarantee is there that the funds would go directly to transportation improvements? I'm all for it if the state's corrupt and/or stupid politicians can't redirect it to other areas. And I couldn't care less if the person who bought a Leaf (even a Prius or Volt uses gas, just less) doesn't pay the gas tax if it means the douchebag with his heavy duty truck he doesn't need pays for his consumption.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Sorry it took so long to comment. 

I couldn't sit down to type, monkeys were flying out of my butt.

observist
observist

APOSTATE!!!!!   HERETIC!!!!!  

Daniel
Daniel

But ... but ... I thought if we DECREASED the gas tax to, say, 5 cents a gallon, revenues would increase. Do you believe in magic? In a comptroller's heart?

MariaB
MariaB

Bravo! A true "Use Tax." People who use the highways should pay for them. The more you drive, the more you pay. Sounds fair to me!

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Once his Testicles start feeling the heat He will blame LEFTIST Media reporting and of course claim he was quoted out of Context .......


Or check him self  in for treatment ...

kduble
kduble

@MikeWestEast The difference, however, is the motor fuels tax is pay-as-you-go, whereas toll roads are funded by debt. The tolls collected are used to retire that debt, and the interest on that debt. There is also the issue of scofflaws. Toll roads end up costing the public more, and a portion of the revenue is used to sustain a new bureaucracy.


Contrast this to raising the motor fuels tax. Because the collection structure is already in place, 100% of the revenue goes for it's intended purpose. I support using tolls for congestion management in populated urban areas. Otherwise, it's a less efficient means of funding construction.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Scruffygeist I thought all the douchebags were in Uptown and the Arts district, driving BMW's and Mercedes' they can't afford?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@MariaB 


So, then. You don't purchase groceries? Or maybe they are air-dropped to you so that they never have to travel via truck to arrive in your belly.


Everyone uses the roadways one how or another.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@MariaB Texas has a large surplus because the GOP in Austin would rather pile the cash up over there than spend it based on what it was collected to do .

This money might be collected and  intended for highways but it will go to the Surplus pile over there and not to the highways .

observist
observist

@RTGolden1 @Scruffygeist Douchebags come in many different scents.

MariaB
MariaB

@TheCredibleHulk @MariaB You're exactly right! See how easy that was?

Thank you. I'm pleased that you agree with me: people who drive  should pay according to how much they use streets and roads. People who own several cars and drive lots of miles should pay more for road construction and upkeep than those who own one car and drive fewer miles. A true "Use Tax."

factJack
factJack

@oakclifftownie 75% of the gasoline tax goes straight into the state highway fund. 25% into education.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@oakclifftownie You mean it goes to the Rick Perry Crony Capitalist Crooks and Liars Retirement Fund, I think.

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