Fuel tax boost sought in Wyoming; I-80 truck tolls nixed

| 7/25/2007

A Wyoming legislative panel has endorsed legislation that would increase the state’s fuel tax by a dime per gallon during the next three years. A separate plan died that sought to authorize truck tolls.

The Joint Interim Committee on Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs unanimously decided to offer a bill during the 2008 regular session that would generate a projected $70 million annually by charging higher state taxes on diesel and gasoline. The state would get $47 million from the tax increase while counties and cities would split the rest, The Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The state’s 14-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel and gas would increase to 24 cents in three steps. It would rise to 17 cents in January 2009. It would increase another penny in 2010 and another 4 cents in January 2011.

The tax increase also would include 2 cents per gallon for the tax for leaking underground storage tanks.

The proposal also would increase driver’s license fees and other fees by an average of 70 percent. The increases would be phased in during the next three years.

Supporters say the revenue is needed to help fund needed road work. They also point out that only Alaska has a lower fuel tax rate than Wyoming.

The likelihood for passage, however, is not good. A spokesman for Gov. Dave Freudenthal said the governor is against higher taxes. He cites already high prices at the fuel pump and strong state revenues.

Another idea to help pay for roadwork was derailed. Rep. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, was unsuccessful in his appeal to lawmakers to pursue adding tolls to Interstate 80 – a move that would require federal approval.

The Legislature is expected to consider the proposals endorsed by the committee once they gather in Cheyenne in February 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Wyoming in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor