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Texas Lawmakers Discuss Gas Tax Increase
Texas lawmakers are mulling ways to raise more money for roads this legislative session, and one proposal is already drawing strong interest. The House Transportation Committee is discussing raising the state gas tax to generate revenue to improve highways, bridges and rail services.
Federal and state gas taxes remain the primary revenue source for road construction and maintenance in Texas. Right now, Texas drivers pay 20 cents per gallon for the state's gas tax, which is lower than the national average of nearly 30 cents per gallon.
That state figure hasn't changed since 1991, despite rising construction costs, inflation and more fuel efficient vehicles. Some drivers told us it makes sense to raise the rate.
“I think it's a fair thing to do,” said Samantha Salazar who just moved to Austin from Chicago. “The more gas you buy, means you're driving more and you're using the roads more, so there's going to be more wear and tear.”
“I wish people were taxed more evenly and that's one way to do it,” said Padaric Kolander while filling up his car. “Not everybody will like it, I don't like it, but I can see it as necessary evil.”
Past efforts to raise the gas tax have failed. That's partly due to criticism that a large portion of the gas tax has been diverted to spending on other things than roads, like public education and the Department of Public Safety.
“It's going to go in some lawmaker’s pocket, maybe Rick Perry's,” said Eric Gant. “It’s not coming to us. They're raising taxes every day and we're not seeing anything. We're just seeing taxes go up, wages are not going up. It's ridiculous.”
For the first time, during the last legislative session, Governor Rick Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus called for ending budget diversions. That’s another measure that would need to be passed by the House and Senate.
Right now, the average Texas driver spends about $7 a month in gas tax. This proposed measure could increase gas prices up to ten cents per gallon.
There are also proposals to raise the state's vehicle registration fee by about $50.
For a breakdown of gas taxes from TXDOT, go to http://www.keyetv.com/images/Gastaxfacts.pdf.
By Katherine Stolp