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
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.