Deleware's lame-duck Democrat Governor Jack Markell has asked state legislators to increase taxpayers' pain at the pump with a 10-cent per gallon gas tax hike. State motorists already pay 23 cents per gallon in state gas taxes (on top of the 18.4-cents federal tax) and this plan takes another $50 million directly from their pockets. It also borrows another $50 million annually to pay for 55 new road projects, totaling $500 million over 5 years.
Deleware may be a small state but state Democrats have a huge appetite for spending. That's precisely why in 2013 state residents had to work until April 14th to pay the state's total tax bill, which is directly connected to the state's budget growth and cost of government. From 2010-2013 the state budget grew more than 16%, far outpacing inflation and population growth. To claim that the state has a revenue problem, as opposed to a spending problem is absurd.
This might explain why even House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Democrat, opposes the plan. Then again, she like every other member of the House faces re-election this fall and tax hikes are a hard thing to campaign on.
Democrats who claim that road projects are a top priority should reexamine the entire budget instead of focusing solely on the gas tax, a tax originally designated to pay for transportation projects. If it's actually a top priority, legislators should fund new projects before everything else, instead of last, which is the status quo. Additionally, as Senate Republican Whip Greg Lavelle said, "it's hard to contemplate a gas tax increase without some reforms to the Transportation Trust Fund to ensure its integrity." The Governor's plan makes no attempt at any sort of reforms, making it clear he has no interest in determining how much waste exists.
Deleware is already poised to lose nearly 8,000 jobs thanks to the effects of Obamacare, which imposed nearly $1 trillion in higher taxes after its passage in 2010. Taxpayers cannot afford yet another tax hike and legislators would be wise to focus on budget restraint instead of increasing motorists' pain at the pump.