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Groups oppose bills permitting 125% gas tax hike

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Flawed approach could permit gas tax to skyrocket from 20 cents to 45 cents per gallon 

AUSTIN – The new transportation tax proposals passed by the House Transportation Committee were met with significant opposition from several research and taxpayer groups, including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Eagle Forum, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Americans for Prosperity, and the Free Market Foundation.

Legislation approved by the committee during the past 24 hours—House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 855—permits a 15-cent statewide increase of the gas tax within 10 years, as well as a new 10-cent-per-gallon local gas tax. This represents a potential 25-cent increase per gallon, on top of the current 20-cent gas tax—a whopping 125 percent increase within 10 years. While these measures require voter approval, the organizations listed above reject the flawed notion that requiring voter approval makes this measure acceptable.

“The legislature and several local leaders cannot look taxpayers in the eye and say they took even commonsense steps to avoid a tax increase. As these tax bills are heading for passage, lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a budget that will continue to divert billions of dollars in transportation taxes to non-transportation purposes,” said Justin Keener, Vice President for Policy and Communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Furthermore, many cities in the regions seeking increased taxes have chosen not to use their sales-tax authority for transportation projects. Whatever happened to setting priorities with our existing tax dollars before going to the taxpayers and seeking more?”

“Even though California and New York are trapped in fiscal death spirals, our Texas legislators seem insistent on taking a page from their playbooks,” said Michael Quinn Sullivan, President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “Texas will no longer be able to hold itself out as a beacon of economic sanity if it charts a course to permit raising taxes during a recession.”

“It appears the legislature does not remember we are in a recession, and that Texas is better positioned than most states because we kept taxes low,” said Jonathan Saenz of the Free Market Foundation. “To think that the path to economic recovery is through a tax increase is beyond belief.”

“These bills permit a 125 percent increase in the gasoline taxes paid by Texas drivers,” said Peggy Venable, Director of Americans for Prosperity-Texas. “Legislators are holding onto the false notion that by requiring voter approval they are absolving themselves of the reality that this permits a colossal tax increase that is going to impose a tremendous burden on Texas families and businesses. We are concerned that the cap and trade policy promoted by the Obama Administration could cause gas prices to skyrocket. This is not a time to increase taxes.”

“The legislature’s rush to pass this without public input is shocking,” said Cathie Adams, President of Texas Eagle Forum. “Many citizens in the regions affected by this legislation will be blindsided by the skyrocketing gas taxes they could pay as a result of these bills. Legislators should remember the public backlash the last time they rushed through a massive transportation bill without public input.”


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