Tennessee added to states seeking fuel tax hikes

| 3/4/2003

Tennessee has joined the ever-expanding list of states to push for a fuel tax increase to help generate transportation revenue.

Two pieces of legislation introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly would increase the state’s diesel and gas taxes by 5 cents a gallon.

Under SB1893, sponsored by Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, and HB2059, sponsored by Rep. John C. Tidwell, D-New Johnsonville, the state’s diesel tax would climb from 17 cents to 22 cents a gallon. Gasoline would climb from 20 cents a gallon to 25 cents.

Revenue would be deposited into the state’s highway fund.

“It is the legislative intent that the state allocate and devote resources to the development of highways in rural areas of the state,” Jackson and Tidwell wrote. “Such development shall be designed to create greater ease of transportation and convenience for citizens of rural areas and persons traveling in those areas.”

Several states have introduced legislation this year to boost fuel taxes while other states are expected to debate possible increases.

Lawmakers are trying to create transportation funding at a time when state governments are cutting their overall budgets and canceling or suspending road projects.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, recently said the trend was unlikely to slow anytime soon.

Every state is coping with a shortfall,” he said. “States are looking at almost every possible source to boost revenue. Unfortunately, we as truckers, operating in many states, are going to have our hands full at the state and federal level.”

An issue Spencer says must be stressed: “Every state should use highway-user taxes specifically and exclusively for repair and maintenance of the highway system without the diversion that is common.”

--by Keith Goble, staff writer