Tax and fees hikes for Delaware roads sidelined

| 6/20/2007

An effort that would have helped Delaware cover a six-year, $1.5 billion shortfall during the next six years for transportation has been scrapped. Among the concerns that led to the bill’s demise were higher truck fees.

House Minority Leader Robert Gilligan, D-Wilmington, removed from consideration his bill – HB50 – to increase fuel taxes and boost vehicle titling and registration fees. It also called for increasing toll rates.

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner touted the plans early this year as part of her fiscal 2008 capital budget.

The tax and fees increases would have amounted to about $80 million a year for the Transportation Trust Fund, the Delaware State News reported. The per-gallon tax on gas and diesel would have increased 5 cents while vehicle registration would have jumped 50 percent and titling fees would have risen 1.75 percent during the next two years.

Supporters said some of those fees have remained unchanged for several years. In fact, vehicle registration fees have remained the same since 1965.

Opponents honed in on the call for higher fuel taxes and labeled the effort as “simply cruel” with the price at the pump hovering near $3 per gallon. Others were concerned about the effect higher registration fees would have on the trucking industry. The cost to register a large truck in the state would have risen from $320 to $640.

– By Keith Goble, State Legislative Editor