The Texas House of Representatives will hold a vote later today on the House version of Senate Bill 855, legislation that would permit a substantial gas tax increase. ATR has repeatedly expressed opposition to this legislation throughout the session (see here, here, and here).
SB 855 permits certain Texas counties, virtually every large to moderately-sized population center in the state, to levy a 10 cent gas tax increase. House Bill 9, which would index the state gas tax for inflation, effectively putting further state gas tax increases on autopilot, is expected to be rolled into SB 855 today. The result: a very large increase in transportation taxes paid by Texas motorist.
A recent study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shows how indexing alone will cause a gas tax increase every bienium that is equal to 15% of the current rate. TPPF has also produced an informative study on the effect that SB 855 would have on Texas motorists.
ATR joins TPPF and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility in asking lawmakers to prioritize current transportation funds better, utilize existing taxing capacity, and end diversion of transportation funds for non-transportation purposes before even considering raising gas taxes.
The Texas legislature diverted $1.6 billion in transportation revenues from the current budget for non-transportation purposes. The budget for the coming biennium continues these diversions to the tune of $1 billion.
The county-level tax increase, combined with indexing of the state gas tax will require Texas families to cope with a 125% increase in non-federal gas taxes. This would be the 4th time that TX gas taxes have been ratcheted up since the mid-80s and will only exacerbate the pain felt by TX motorists when gas prices rise every summer driving/vacation season.
Economists of all political stripes agree that tax hikes should be avoided at all costs during a recession. What's worse, SB 855 would punish Texans every time they commute to work, pick their kids up from school, or go to the grocery store.
atr.org will report later today on whether any Lone Star State lawmakers broke their Pledge. Stay tuned...