Fuel tax increase sought in Texas

| Wednesday, February 16, 2005

If a Texas state lawmaker gets his way, drivers could be digging deeper into their pockets to fill up their fuel tanks.

House Speaker Tom Craddick said he would support changing the state’s fuel tax system to keep pace with the rate of inflation.

“I support the indexing,” Craddick told local media after the daily floor session. Without it, he said, the state can’t keep up “with the inflationary problems we have with the dollars we’re raising through the (fuel) tax.”

The current tax rate for gasoline and diesel is 20 cents a gallon. It hasn’t changed since 1991.

That hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation, and left the state with a loss of real dollars from the budget used for building roads statewide, said Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock.

Krusee, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told the San Antonio Express-News he’s floated the idea among other lawmakers but has yet to file a formal plan for raising the fuel rate.

He said a penny a gallon increase would generate about $100 million a year.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Texas Senate, said the idea of generating more money from the fuel tax is worth discussing.

“We’ve got continuing challenges to put more money into our highways,” Dewhurst said. “We’ll take a look at it over here in the Senate.”

Gov. Rick Perry has said he opposes raising the fuel tax to compensate for inflation.

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