North Carolina lawmaker seeks repeal of fuel-tax increase

| Friday, January 06, 2006

With drivers in North Carolina paying nearly 3 cents more at the pump in state fuel taxes since Jan. 1, a state lawmaker is calling for help for consumers.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Eden, wants to repeal the increase and prevent future boosts to the state’s 29.9-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel.

North Carolina ’s fuel tax is a variable tax that is adjusted twice annually based on a six-month average of the wholesale price. The tax, previously 27.1 cents per gallon, now is the highest in the Southeast.

Berger, and most of his Republican counterparts in the state, urged Gov. Mike Easley to call lawmakers back into session to debate the increase. The Democratic governor has refused, saying the state would stand to lose about $150 million in funding for road projects.

Berger isn’t going away though. He’s working on a bill to cap the state’s fuel tax, or at least roll back the recent 2.8-cent increase.

The tax funds roads, bridges and other projects. However, in the past four years, more than a billion dollars has been rerouted from the Highway Trust Fund to the state’s “general fund,” WFMY-TV in Greensboro reported. This fiscal year alone, the General Assembly moved $252 million from transportation to the general fund.

“Over the past four years the governor and Democrats have transferred road money to go to the general fund. I believe that when people have mismanaged that much money over the years we don’t need to give them more money to mismanage,” Berger told The Eden Daily News.

Berger’s effort is expected to be debated in the legislative session that begins in May.

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