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  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default Gas tax increase?

    This has been discussed in the legislature for a long time...increasing gasoline taxes to help funds improvements to roads and bridges. I agree with the consensus that our gasolnie taxes are way below the national average, and we could afford raising our gasoline taxes to improve roads. But, I question why we're discussing this when gasoline prices are so high. There's no way people are going to vote to increase gasoline prices when they're already so high. We should've discussed increasing gasolnie taxes back in the 90's when prices were still low.

    What do you think?

    ------------
    "Capitol Business: Debating a $344 million motor fuel tax hike

    by William O. Pitts

    The Journal Record
    6/20/2005

    What is being called "an historic investment in road and bridge maintenance" was overwhelmingly enacted this past session of the Oklahoma Legislature.
    House Bill 1078 by state Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City, was so tabbed by Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater and Senate president pro tempore.

    State Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, Democrat Caucus chairman and Senate sponsor of the bill, echoed Morgan's appellation.

    "We've made an historic investment in road and bridge maintenance in our state," Corn said. "Oklahomans will begin seeing the results of this bill before the end of this year. In the coming decade, hundreds of bridges will be replaced and repaired while thousands of miles of highways will be resurfaced."

    Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, called the bill "a significant investment in Oklahoma's roads and bridges without raising taxes."

    Newport said the bill "offers a solution without burdening taxpayers more."

    The legislation is designed to gradually increase annual road and bridge spending to a sustained level of $170 million annually - using available surplus revenue in state coffers. The plan phases in beginning at $15 million next year and then $34 million each year until the $170 million figure is reached.

    Additionally the Legislature appropriated $69 million this year to pay debt service on road construction bonds. Previously this had come out of the highway construction and maintenance funds. Most of that will go for the new repair and maintenance program.

    The plan had broad bipartisan support in the Legislature and was praised by Gov. Brad Henry, who signed it into law. He previously backed another plan embodied in State Question 723.

    In a recent CEO to CEO Briefing paper, The State Chamber noted it supported and actively lobbied for passage of HB 1078 and commended legislators for passing it, praising the measure for providing funding without an increase in taxes.

    The report also said the chamber's board of directors approved a policy last December supporting the concept of SQ 723. It said it does not believe these two solutions to be mutually exclusive.

    State Question 723 is the result of an initiative petition campaign started two years ago by the Oklahomans for Safe Bridges and Roads Coalition to raise motor fuel taxes for repairs and reconstruction of the state's roads and bridges. They obtained more than 290,000 signatures to put the question on a state ballot and the governor set a special election for Sept. 13.

    In recent years few if any denied the need for major repairs on state bridges and highways. Nor is their argument on this point today.

    In the past two years this column included several pieces urging an increase in motor fuel taxes if the Legislature failed to act. Now it has.

    According to Neal McCaleb, former state transportation director and now chairman of the coalition backing SQ 723, the proposal will increase gasoline taxes by 5 cents and diesel fuel by 8 cents a gallon over three years.

    The tax increase would be a virtually unprecedented constitutional levy ultimately raising motor fuel taxes by a total of $344 million annually.

    He argues the constitutional dedication to roads and highways prevents the new revenues from being diverted by the Legislature.

    Actually only a small percentage of the motor fuel tax is sidetracked. It is revenue from the motor vehicle tax that is most heavily raided for non-road user purposes.

    Rep. Mark Liotta, R-Tulsa, urges voters to tell the Legislature to reprioritize the tax dollars they already give to the state. That is the purpose of HB 1078.

    Perhaps, as the chamber maintains, the two solutions are not mutually exclusive, but whether they are mutually necessary is another matter. The legislative plan is a done deal.

    The debate is not about the disingenuous use of gimmicks and anecdotal scare tactics. It is about the efficacy and cost of two plans and solving a problem with or without boosting motor fuel taxes on motorists by $344 million a year."

  2. #2

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    Our roads are in terrible shape across the state. I am not sure like Patrick said, if this is the right timing for a Gas tax increase.

    I have read that Hummer driver's salary's average about $120,000 - $150,000 and how with salary's like that they can afford high gas prices even today.

    lol.. maybe there should be a extra tax ($500 a pop) you have to pay if you purchase a vehicle that gives less than 19 miles a gallon. lol.

  3. Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    There is a Federal gas-guzzler tax, but it's imposed only on cars; trucks, vans and SUVs were not included in the law when it was passed. It's quite a bit higher than $500, though; it can range up to $7700.

  4. #4
    Jay Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    I am upset with the way this state's money is managed. I will not vote for any tax increase at the state level until a performance audit has taken place.

    This state wastes too much money as it is and these people want more to waste.

    This state sees plenty of money from the feds for roads. The problem is that it gets re-routed to pet projects and non transprotation needs.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    lol. show me one state or city that does not waste money??? They all do, to some extent, some more than others. Plus, everyone's definition of wasting money is different.

    We all see everyone wasting money in some shape way or form. Corporations waste money, governments waste money and yes, you and I waste money too. Should you have really ate at Toby's Keith's today? or at Pearls Lakeside last weekend? Well, that depends, whats your definition of wasting money?

    Because YOUR stomach gained something from Pearls Lakeside or from Toby Keith's, we personally see that as money wisely spent.

    Food for Thought.
    Last edited by BricktownGuy; 06-22-2005 at 10:00 PM. Reason: added more details.

  6. Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    I think a a few pennys tax on gas would be very beneficial for the road situation in OK. Honestly, there are way to many turnpikes in OK. they should get rid of the Turner Turnpike altogether.

    Its not fair to have all interstate access to Tulsa as toll roads.

    Maybe eventually with the tax, they could at least free the Turner! Perhaps the others should remain, but it is foolish to have the I-44 Turner toll road - which explains why it is relatively empty compared to I-35.
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  7. #7
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    Quote Originally Posted by HOT ROD
    Its not fair to have all interstate access to Tulsa as toll roads.
    That should be music to Tulsan's ears!


    Maybe eventually with the tax, they could at least free the Turner! Perhaps the others should remain, but it is foolish to have the I-44 Turner toll road - which explains why it is relatively empty compared to I-35.
    Unfortunately, I think that's wishful thinking. Turner is their big money maker. They're not gonig to give it up. Giving turner up would completely derail their attempts to continue expanding the turnpike system.

    By the way, Hot Rod, maybe you should run for governor! I admit, I like the idea of ridding the state of turnpikes.

  8. #8
    gtelmore Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    State legislators are in denial about both the actual causes of our roadway problem and clear failure of past revenue boosts to help.

    In 1987, state fuel tax was raised from 10 cents on both gasoline and diesel to 16 on gas but only 13 on diesel. They wanted to "encourage trucking," they said. Well, they succeeded. Truck volume growth on state roads was 38% across the decade of the 80s. Between 1996 and 1999, truck volume, exppressed in VMT or "vehicle miles traveled," jumped from 5.6 billion annual miles to 13.4 billion -- an average increase of 45% per year. Each of these rigs, operating at its max legal weight (80,000 lbs gvw) will inflict pavement damage equivalent to 9,600 automobiles -- yet each has paid 3 cents LESS state fuel tax since 1987.

    Trucking pays around 22% of the fuel tax revenues that come into state coffers -- but trucking functionally inflicts ALL the damage done to primary roads.

    Why did tapping tag and registration fee revenues for road maintenance appear so appealing to legislators? It appealed to most because they are ignorant. It appealed to its sponsors because they are in the thrall of the trucking lobby -- and understand full well that trucking pays less than 10% of the total revenue comprising the tag and registration pool -- even less than they pay in fuel taxation. In short, the happy driving public just got tagged with a massive increase to repair roads overwhelmingly damaged by big trucks.

    What do you suppose trucking does with money it SHOULD have had to pay for road use -- but was freed from paying by the largesse of "friendly legislators?" It goes out and buys more trucks -- absolutely ensuring worse roads next year than last year. Today, new damage is coming so hard and so fast that the taxpayers could NEVER keep up with it.

    TOM ELMORE
    gtelmore@advancedtransport.org

  9. #9
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    I'm curious. We will be voting on this tax increase in September. How will you be voting...for or against?

    I'll probably be voting for, as I know our roads and bridges need money.....I only hope the audits continue so we know our money is being spent properly.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    Truckers need to stay off the roads they aren't allowed to drive on.

  11. #11
    gtelmore Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    Trouble is, thanks to state government, all highway rigs have virutally universal access "5 miles off major routes to terminal points." That is, functionally, every single road and street in every town and metro in the state.

    Do I support the fuel tax increase? Nope. No way.

    We raised fuel taxes in 1987. The statewide road system got worse, faster than at any time in history. Then, in 1997, the legislature gave ODOT, nominally, "one billion dollars." That plainly accelerated the deterioration of the statewide system.

    Why? Because the wrong people bore the brunt of the tax. When you tax folks whose vehicles don't appreciably damage primary roads to repair damage overwhelmingly caused by trucking, you get more trucks. Why? With money it SHOULD have had to pay for road use, trucking buys more vehicles and artificially dominates ever-larger segments of the surface transport marketplace each year. More trucks -- worse roads.

    The state legislature continues to be dominated by the protectors of the status quo. "Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven," and all that. They refuse do deal with the situation.

    There is one answer -- and only one answer. First, we must have a certified audit of highway user costs called a Highway Cost Allocation Study. The results of this study must then be taken to THE PEOPLE of the state. We must then completely reform the state road user fee system ensuring that each vehicle pays its way and that nobody pays costs inflicted by others. To keep the "shock" of suddenly doing it right in a world doing it wrong from killing our trucking industry, we must then aggressively develop intermodal, road-to-rail technologies and methodologies. This should ensure that Oklahoma could parlay its unique assets into leadership in the critical field of advanced, self-supporting surface transport, not just helping the nation's economy, but reinventing our own.

    TOM ELMORE

  12. #12
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: Gas tax increase?

    Raising taxes on diesel may actually solve the problem. Many truckers have said they'd leave the state and find alternate routes of travel if they raise the diesel tax. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with that. The trucking industry doesn't benefit the state anyways. Trucks simply pass through the state day and night, on there way to other destinations. They're using our highways but aren't spending much while they're here.The wear and tear on our highways is much more than what we're making off them from diesel taxes.

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