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Hold the Presses: Alaska Gas Tax Increases Today

Alaska's 11.30 cents per-gallon gas tax, lowest in the United States, increases today for the first time in 45 years. As of July 1, the tax increases to 12.25 cents. Yes, by less than a penny. Percentage wise, though, it looks bigger: 8.4 percent.
July 1, 2015, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Depending on your math skills, the following numerical description from the text of HB 158 on the amount of the tax increase may initially be a bit difficult to grasp at first: 

Sec. 43.40.005: Refined fuel surcharge levied. (a) Every dealer or user of refined fuels shall pay a surcharge of $.0095 a gallon on refined fuel sold, transferred, or used in the state.

Why so little?

First, unlike most state gas tax increases reported in Planetizen, this tax will not be used to fund transportation infrastructure. Rather, revenues will be used "to pay for a spill prevention and response program run by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation," as noted here shortly after the bill "passed the House by a single vote, 21-19, on April 8."

Second, James Brooks of the Juneau Empire wrote what happened next:

As the bill moved its way through committees in the Senate, senators cut the proposed tax increase by five hundredths of a cent, to provide what DEC has truly asked for, said Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna.

“We thought a penny a gallon was too much,” he said while testifying in favor of the bill. 

Finally, Associated Press via Alaska Public Media reports that the tax increase is the first of any kind in the state in a decade. This particular increase was necessitated by low oil prices causing reduced revenue for DEC's oil spill program.

Gov. Bill Walker (Independent) signed HB 158 on June 27, only four days before it would take effect, presumably to prevent a rush at the pumps.

Regardless of how small the amount, Alaska becomes the ninth state to increase gas taxes this year, following Nebraska's six-cents phased gas tax increase over four years, which became law on May 14 when the Republican Senate overrode Republican Governor Pete Ricketts' veto.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Planetizen
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