A “Voluntary” Gas Tax Increase

 H.3650 would impose a new tax on motor fuel assessed at 21 cents a gallon. Revenue collected from this new tax would be credited to the state highway fund to be used exclusively to repair and maintain existing infrastructure. Once an infrastructure project funded with the revenues from this new tax is completed the DOT would be able to offer the county where the project was completed ownership of the infrastructure. The county would be free to accept or reject this offer.

On the collections side state residents would be allowed to exempt themselves from the tax by providing proof of residency to a motor fuel retailer who would then not collect the new gas tax. State residents who choose not to exempt themselves would be eligible to claim a credit worth 10 percent of funds they paid towards the new gas tax over the previous year.

While this bill styles its new tax as voluntary it would really only be so for residents. And while it’s not a bad idea to mandate gas tax revenues be used for maintenance before new construction, this stipulation doesn’t justify a gas tax increase. Rather, this mandate should be put on existing gas tax revenues.

Aside from these considerations the most important point to be made here is that transportation authorities don’t need more revenue to maintain roads. Increasing the revenues available to the DOT absent structural reforms will only reward the agency for the mismanagement of resources that has led to the current state of our roads. Taxpayers whether they are residents or not, shouldn’t suffer financially because of poor government decision making.

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