By Kevin Pula
Current gasoline prices are the lowest the country has seen since mid-2008. The American Automobile Association places the current national average price of gasoline at $2.054 per gallon.
Many states see this situation as a prime chance to help alleviate the growing gap between infrastructure needs and declining transportation funding revenue.
As described in this NCSL LegisBrief from November 2014, states are uncertain of future federal funding. Many states have acknowledged that even if Congress finds a way to pass a long-term transportation bill, states will still need to take on an even greater role in transportation funding.
As we wrap up the third week of 2015, 39 legislatures, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have entered into regular session. Revising state motor fuel taxes appears to be one of the hottest topics in statehouses around the country. Over the past couple of months we have heard lawmakers and governors sounding off about the need for increased motor fuel taxes.
Elected officials from at least 14 states have released statements about potential increases in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels.
At least six states have already introduced 2015 legislation to do just that. Arkansas HB 1048, Georgia HB 60, Minnesota SB 87, New Jersey AB 3886, Oregon HB 2550 and South Dakota SB 1 all have proposed to increase motor fuel taxes, either through fixed increases or by indexing. Elected officials from Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee and Utah have all hinted at the potential of legislation to be introduced soon, while others have simply alluded to consideration of such legislation.
This comes after Michigan legislators passed a large transportation funding package in the eleventh hour of their 2014 session. This package includes an indexed gasoline and diesel tax. (See NCSL’s Gas Tax Legislation Web Page.)
This is not a new trend. In 2013 six states and the District of Columbia enacted legislation that will increase or may increase overall state gas taxes. In 2014, three states—Michigan, New Hampshire and Rhode Island—followed suit. Notably, except for New Hampshire and Wyoming, all of these jurisdictions moved toward a gas tax that tracks with the economy to some degree, either by tying the rate to inflation or basing it on the price of fuel.
NCSL tracks gas tax legislation through our Transportation Funding and Finance Legislation Database. Additionally you can see summaries of all 2013 and 2014 increases to the state motor fuel taxes on our Gas Tax Legislation Web Page.
Kevin Pula is a research analyst with NCSL’s Environment, Energy and Transportation program.