Wyoming on verge of 10-cent fuel tax increase

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/7/2013

A Wyoming bill to make truckers and others fueling in the state pay a bit more at the fuel pump is one step away from the governor’s desk.

The Senate Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee voted 4-1 to advance a bill to the full Senate that would increase the state’s fuel tax rate by 10 cents to 24 cents to help cover a $135 million annual shortfall to upkeep roads. The state’s 14-cent-per-gallon tax rate has not changed since 1998.

If approved, the bill would move to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk for his signature. House lawmakers already approved HB69 on a 35-24 vote.

Supporters say that something must be done about transportation funding because costs to pay for road work has skyrocketed in the past 15 years.

Opponents say the state would be better served to look at efficiency and management of the money already available to the Wyoming Department of Transportation before again tapping an already over-taxed electorate for more money.

According to WYDOT, the tax increase would generate about $72 million in new revenue the first year. About $47.4 million – half the amount the state needs to cover the shortfall – would be earmarked for state highways. Counties and cities would receive $16.4 million and $6.7 million, respectively. State parks would claim another $1.2 million.

Speaking to lawmakers during his State of the State speech last month, Gov. Matt Mead called on them to approve the dime tax increase. He said it would create a long-term funding source to help pay for state and local road projects.

“Roads are the backbone for so much of our commerce, recreation and day-to-day living,” he said. “If we fail to maintain our roads, the price goes up and a higher price will be paid for poor maintenance. That is not a plan.”

HB69 is scheduled for consideration on the Senate floor on Monday, Feb. 11.

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

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