Gas tax hike of 9 cents per gallon, diesel 12 cents, ‘kicked around’

During informal discussions with Republican lawmakers, Gov. Bill Haslam and state Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have “kicked around” a proposal for increasing state gasoline taxes by 9 per gallon and diesel fuel by 12 cents per gallon, reports the Times-Free Press.
“Those are the numbers that the governor and TDOT have kicked around — but not in a formal proposal,” Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro said in a recent interview. “It may be in his proposed budget.”

Other lawmakers have cited similar figures, sometimes a bit lower, but spoke on condition their names not be used.

Ketron said whatever figure Haslam, also a Republican, eventually settles on, the fuel tax increase proposal “is going to be the biggest issue the governor tries to pass” during the 110th General Assembly which begins Jan. 10.

Asked about the figures cited by Ketron and others, Haslam Press Secretary Jennifer Donnals would only say “the governor continues to have meetings and discussions with legislators and as he has said, will announce a comprehensive proposal at the appropriate time.”

Tennessee’s gas tax, created in 1924 solely to pay for roads, is now 21.4 cents per gallon while diesel is 18.4 cents per gallon. There has been no increase since 1989.

Each penny of the gas tax raises $30.7 million for the state and local government. Each penny of the diesel tax raises $10.1 million. The state Department of Transportation’s total state revenue is $844.5 million, according to the TDOT website, and, according to legislative documents, includes vehicle registration taxes and some other levies.

UPDATE/Note: Asked about Ketron’s comments Wednesday, Haslam demurred: “We’re in the middle of conversations with legislators to see what will work…. “We haven’t arrived at a number we’re ready to present yet. But we obviously plan on doing that in the next couple of weeks.”

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