A Texas House panel has unanimously approved a measure that
would have drivers digging a little deeper into their pockets to fill up their
The House Ways and Means Committee voted on March 17 to tie
the state’s fuel tax to the rate of inflation. The bill – HB5 – now moves to
the full House, where it is expected to gain approval.
“I support the indexing,” House Speaker Tom Craddick
recently told local media. Without it, he said, the state can’t keep up “with
the inflationary problems we have with the dollars we’re raising through the
The Texas tax current 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, the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the House
Transportation Committee, told the Austin American-Statesman the state
lacks 40 percent of what it needs for highways and other projects.
He said linking the fuel tax to the Consumer Price Index
would mean as much as $50 million dollars more per year in revenue.
That would amount to about a half-cent-a-gallon increase
annually, bringing the state fuel tax up to 20.5 cents a gallon in fiscal 2006.
Three-fourths of revenue from the fuel tax goes to the state
highway fund and one-fourth to public schools.
Krusee told the newspaper the tax hike isn’t intended to
solve the state’s backlog of highway projects.
“All it does is keep us running in place. But if we don’t do
this, the shortfall will increase every year,” he said.
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.”