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The proposed 25% increase in state gasoline taxes is unfair and unnecessary. Here are the facts outlining why increasing taxes on gasoline in Texas is bad public policy.
If passed, only four states would pay higher gas taxes than Texas.
Surrounding states would have significantly lower gas taxes: In terms of state gasoline taxes, Texans would pay:
22% more than Arkansans
25% more than Louisianans
47% more than New Mexicans
47% more than Oklahomans
Rural Americans drive much more than urban Americans and pay 2 to 3 times as much in gas taxes. Therefore, farmers and ranchers will pay a disproportionate amount of this tax hike.
The federal tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon, which means the overall rate of taxation would be an astounding 43.4 cents on every gallon!
If levied, Texans would pay roughly $5.8 billion in total gasoline taxes. That’s about $1,164 per year for the average family of four.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, Texans used a total of 12,981,298,000 gallons of gas in 1999. Because of the size of our state, that’s second only to California in overall usage.
Based on these figures, increasing the state gas tax by 25% would cost taxpayers $649,064,900.
If distributed evenly over the estimated 20,044,141 people living in Texas, the cost would be an additional $32.38 in gas taxes. This amounts to an additional $128.52 for the average family of four.
However, the burden would not be distributed evenly over all Texas families. This is a regressive tax and farmers, ranchers, and lower-income consumers would shoulder the heaviest burden!
Texas would lose jobs! Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander has projected job losses from the gasoline tax increase with her dynamic tax model. The Texas Public Policy Foundation also has a model that yielded similar results:
Texas jobs lost due to the gas tax increase -- 44,823
Texas jobs created due to increased road construction activity -- 15,633
Net job loss -- 29,190.
The full impact of this tax is nearly impossible to measure. Even if you don’t own a car you will pay additional costs at the grocery store because transport costs will increase. Riding the bus could become more expensive. The implications are innumerable.
Been there, done that.
In the 72nd Legislature, 1st Called Session, 1991, HB 11 saw the motor fuels tax increase from 15 cents per gallon to 20 cents, (although the original proposal would have raised the tax to 23 cents per gallon). The five-cent increase generated approximately $600 million per year.
However, during that same special session, another bill was filed, and an appropriation switch made that effectively directed the entire gasoline tax increase to the State General Revenue Fund. How the $600 million was directed:
Start with $600 million
A) 25% Constitutionally dedicated to schools = $150 million
B) County Fee Switch = $100 million
C) Appropriation to Department of Public Safety (traditionally funding had come from General Revenue) = $350 million
= $600 million; leaving no new money for transportation!
Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (www.cpa.state.tx.us), US Census Bureau (www.census.gov), Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov), and American Petroleum Institute (www.api.org)
Your help is needed!
Representatives Clyde Alexander (D-Abilene) and Kip Averitt (R-Waco) have sponsored legislation – HB 1682 – which increases the current 20 cent gas tax in Texas to 25 cents. Texas CSE strongly opposes this legislation. Texas does not need a gas tax increase and if passed, Texas consumers would be paying one of the highest gas taxes in the country.
Rep. Alexander has introduced HJR 46 which proposes a constitutional amendment dedicating one-fourth of the tax increase to health insurance for school district employees. Texas CSE opposes this tax as well as this dedication of education funds. School district employees are not state employees and the state should not be responsible for providing state funding to cover school district employee benefits.