Groups hold press conference opposing gas tax hikes unless gov\’t waste is first removed from process.

WASHINGTON – Today, a coalition of conservative groups and taxpayer activists will convene on Capitol Hill to voice opposition to a new federal gasoline tax hike which is up for consideration by Congress. The Conference will begin at noon in room 304 of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The proposed $.054 increase would raise the total gas tax by almost $1 billion annually. The current federal gas tax is $.184 per gallon; with the state gas tax average at approximately $.22 per gallon, the average family has a burden of $660 per year. Meanwhile, gasoline prices are well above 10-year averages, which depresses consumer spending in other areas and the economy as a whole.

"It\’s difficult to think of a worse time to pass a gas tax hike," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in Washington. "It\’s almost like Congress wants to make up for declining oil prices – which we\’ve waited so long for – by raising taxes."

Some in Congress, however, are beginning to organize in opposition to the tax increase. On 19 May, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) addressed a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas), signed by 26 other concerned members voicing opposition to the plan. That same day a number of organizations, including ATR, The American Shareholders Association, Citizens for a Sound Economy, The United Seniors Association, The American Conservative Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, The Family Research Council, The Eagle Forum and other groups signed a similar letter to Hastert and Delay, urging Congress to "look at new ways of paying for roads and more efficient highway construction methods."

Alternatives to a gas tax hike include:

· Repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which ads an estimated 5-38% in construction costs.
· Transferring funds from low- to high-priority areas. Nearly 40% of highway spending in 2001, or $14.6 billion, was diverted away from roads to mass transit and pedestrian uses.

"If tax hikers want more transport money to play with, it\’s there," continued Norquist. "Before they go and rob the taxpayer, they should dig a little deeper in their own budgets."