ELECTION 2014: South Dakota governor changes stance on fuel tax increase?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/2/2014

As election season creeps up, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard is talking about a fuel tax increase to help fix and maintain roadways throughout the state.

Road construction and maintenance in the state is funded through multiple sources. License plate fees are primarily used for local and county roads. The state’s fuel tax is the primary source of funding for state highways.

To raise new revenue to help make sure the state’s roadways don’t deteriorate, the governor said that if he is re-elected this November he would consider increasing the state’s 22-cent-per-gallon fuel tax rate. The tax rate has remained the same since 1999.

“I have promised to oppose tax increases, and I have kept that promise,” Daugaard wrote in a column released by his office. “As we consider our future transportation needs, however, I want to participate in the discussion without taking any options off the table, including proposals to restore the purchasing power of the gas tax.”

The remarks are a turnaround from what Daugaard said while running for governor four years ago. At the time, he said he didn’t favor tax increases of any kind.

A legislative study committee will also spend time this summer studying financing for roads and bridges. The study is a likely preview of topics that lawmakers could consider when the 2015 regular session convenes.

“Regular maintenance pays, and it is much cheaper to maintain a good road than to repair a bad road,” Daugaard wrote. “Our state needs a plan to keep our state highways in good condition.”

Daugaard takes the first step this week to retaining his office. The Republican governor and former state Rep. Lora Hubbel are both seeking the party’s nomination in the Tuesday, June 3, primary election.

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