Wyoming panel considers 5-cent fuel tax hike

| Friday, August 05, 2005

A panel of lawmakers in Wyoming is drafting a proposal to increase the state’s fuel tax by 5 cents per gallon. The revenue would go for a multilane highway system.

The Joint Revenue Committee is working on the scheme and projects it would bring in $50 million annually to widen the state’s most dangerous two-lane roads to four lanes, where possible, The Associated Press reported.

Lawmakers also are considering tapping the state’s general fund for another $50 million for roads.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal is less than thrilled by the plan.

He said Wyoming residents are already unhappy with prices at the pump.

The governor had said earlier he could not endorse a hike in the state’s 14-cent-a-gallon fuel tax without more public support.

Freudenthal signed legislation early this year authorizing a one-time infusion of $7 million for engineering and constructing multilane highway projects. The money cannot be used for the interstate highway system.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation has now estimated the cost of widening highways in the state to be $1.4 billion, much higher than earlier estimates. The cost is no longer $1 million per mile but $3 million per mile.

At its next meeting, the revenue committee is expected to review other states’ fuels taxes and highway funding systems.

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