State Senator Arnie Stuthman of Platte Center, Nebraska wants to raise the gasoline tax from 27 cents per gallon to 32 cents per gallon, a gas tax would bring in $60 million in revenue, however, he and other advocates of raising the gas tax seem to be unaware that revenue has declined despite raises in the gas tax. In 2008 the Nebraska state legislature overrode Governor Heineman’s veto, increasing the tax to 26.7 cents per gallon. In 2009 a 0.4 cent tax increase was added in efforts to raise revenue.
But despite Nebraska’s latest efforts, the state raked in $315 million in 2008-2009, $17 million less than two years earlier, signaling that gas sales are declining, 50 million gallons fewer than four years earlier. By raising the cost of gas, Nebraskans have either found alternatives or have cut back their driving. If the Nebraska legislature passes this 5 cent increase, raising the cost of driving, then one can expect that more Nebraskans will continue to cut back their driving or find alternatives, spiking revenue.
Past tax hikes were wrong, but this proposed one, during this crippling recession, is even worse. Taxes should be the last thing on a Nebraskan’s mind. Unless Nebraska wants to continue losing revenue and continue to punish taxpayers with bad policy, legislators should consider other courses of action. Already Nebraskans are forced to work 216 days just to pay for the cost of government spending and regulations. The state has a huge laundry list of transportation projects that needs prioritizing. Rather than raise taxes, lawmakers might want to review which projects are worthwhile and which ones are pork projects.
You can view ATR’s press release against the proposed gas hike here