Six States' Attempts To Increase Fuel Taxes

A new 21-page report evaluates the efforts of ID, NH, MA, MN, OR, and VT to raise state fuel taxes from 2006-2009. Why did only two succeed? This analysis looks only at how the debates were played out in print media in each of the states.

Can "frame analysis of media discourse" provide insight into the outcome of the debate as to whether or not to increase gas taxes? Was it dependent on the arguments used, e.g. infrastructure collapse, or simply the number of times each side made their case? Oregon and Vermont did pass fuel taxes, two-cents gasoline; and a 2% gas sales tax and three-cent diesel tax respectively.

"In January of 2009, legislators and chief executives in as many as 15 states were proposing legislation to raise gasoline taxes. With gasoline prices averaging half of their July 2008 peak, and states facing massive budget deficits in operating budgets and transportation accounts, increasing gas taxes became a logical option. However, by the end of June, only three state legislatures had approved gasoline tax hikes; Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In this analysis we focus exclusively on how the issue has been framed in the news media as a window into the discourse surrounding the policy debate."

From TRB: "The University of Vermont Transportation Research Center has released a report that examines how proposed gasoline tax hikes were framed in the print news media to see if these frames can provide clues to the eventual policy outcomes."

From Land Line Magazine (June 5, 2009): Vermont gas tax increase now in effect, diesel tax boost effective Oct. 1: "Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas recently signed the $540 million transportation budget. There was little fanfare over the bill increasing the state's fuel taxes about 3 cents per gallon."

"The 2 percent tax (increase) on wholesale gas prices...equates to a 3.3-cent-per-gallon boost that brings the state's tax rate on gas to 22.3 cents. The diesel tax is 26 cents per gallon."

Thanks to TRB Transportation Research E-Newsletter

Full Story: Gasoline Taxes: An Examination of News Media Discourse Related to Gas Tax Funding in Six States

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