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States Increasing Gas Taxes, Again

After a slow 2016, four states this year have already passed state gas tax increases. South Carolina may be next if they override the governor's veto. A new analysis should help legislators do just that.
May 10, 2017, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Gas Pumps

Bills to increase gas taxes by 4.5 cents, 6 cents, 10 cents, and 12 cents per gallon have passed in Montana, Tennessee, Indiana, and California, respectively, this year. Only the Montana bill awaits the governor's signature, which is expected—a far cry from last year when only one state, New Jersey finally increased its gas tax, then the second lowest in the nation after Alaska.

Perhaps the most interesting gas tax politics of the year awaits in South Carolina, where the House passed a 12-cents gas tax increase on Tuesday after the Senate passed it on Monday. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) promptly vetoed it, as he promised he would. Both chambers passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities.

The state's 16.75 cents-per-gallon gas tax, now the second lowest in the country, was last increased in 1987. 

According to Daniel C. Vock, transportation and infrastructure reporter for Governing, "a total of 22 states have passed laws imposing higher gas taxes in the past five years, suggesting it's perhaps not the political risk it was once thought to be."

new analysis [pdf] by an industry group of roadbuilders shows that legislators rarely lost an election after voting to increase gas taxes. In fact, 91 percent of lawmakers who voted for gas tax hikes were re-elected in the next general election in the 16 states that increased fuel taxes between 2013 and 2015, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

On April 7, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) vetoed a gas tax increase of 10 cents-per-gallon. In 2015, the Nebraska's unicameral legislature overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a six cents-per-gallon gas tax increase.

State gas tax increases in the last three years:

The political party of the governor is indicated (Democrat, Republican, Independent), along with the amount and/or type of gas tax increase.

2017 Gas Tax Increases

  1. California (D): 12 cents
  2. Indiana (R): 10 cents
  3. Montana (D): 4.5 cents (still awaits Gov. Steve Bullock's signature)
  4. Tennessee (R): 6 cents

  1. New Jersey (R): 23 cents

In 2015, 11 states increased gas taxes, or adjusted them to prevent steeper reductions. 
  1. Alaska (Ind.): .95 cents (small but monumental as it was the first increase in 45 years)
  2. Georgia (R): About 8 cents, a result of conversion from fuel sales tax to an excise tax. 
  3. Idaho (R): 7 cents
  4. Iowa (R): 10 cents
  5. Kentucky (D): An "effective increase" because it stopped the decrease.
  6. Nebraska (R): 6 cents. Bill became law when legislature overrode veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
  7. Michigan (R): 7.3 cents
  8. North Carolina (R): Like Kentucky, the legislature 'adjusted' its gas tax to prevent deeper reductions. While the tax did drop one cent on July 1, it is expected to begin increasing next year, "at an average of 2.3% a year."
  9. South Dakota (R): 6 cents
  10. Utah (R): 5 cents
  11. Washington (D): 11.9 cents
Full Story:
Published on Monday, May 8, 2017 in Governing
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