Tennessee governor won't rule out fuel tax boost

| Friday, July 28, 2006

Gov. Phil Bredesen said this month he will not rule out increasing Tennessee’s fuel taxes if he is re-elected in November. He noted he has no immediate plans to boost the taxes.

“Having said that, it’s obviously a difficult time right now,” Bredesen told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “And it’s not something I plan to go charging into in the next three months until we get a better sense of where (fuel) prices are going.”

The Democratic governor’s comments drew criticism from Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson’s campaign. A Bryson spokesman said the governor first should restore money he has cut from the state’s road fund, but declined to state Bryson’s position on increasing the fuel taxes.

“There’s no need to start talking about increasing taxes until the governor restores the money to the road fund,” Bryson spokesman Lance Frizzell told the Times Free Press.

The governor rerouted $65 million from the road-building and maintenance fund to the general fund in 2003 to help cover a budget shortfall. He continued the practice in each of the next two budgets, transferring $207 million.

Frizzell would not say if Bryson, a state senator from Franklin, would rule out increasing the state’s fuel taxes. The per-gallon tax on diesel is 18.4 cents and 21.4 cents for gasoline.

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