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GOP Senate Votes to Raise Gas Tax

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Republicans in the General Assembly are becoming ever more creative in figuring out ways to separate people from their money.  First we are told that the state is “oh so broke” and only toll lanes and HOT lanes can possibly solve our nagging infrastructure problems.  Now, the same folks are advocating for higher gas taxes, with no reduction in tolling plans.  Egregiously, they are trying to call it a tax cut.  This is beyond laughable.

At issue here is Senate Bill 20, a measure that makes changes to state income tax laws.  A gas tax change was added to this bill.

According to the Raleigh News and Observer:

Under current law, the 37.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax is expected to drop by 6 to 8 cents a gallon in July, because it is pegged to a percentage of wholesale fuel prices that have fallen sharply in recent months.

Senate legislation would cut the tax to 35 cents on March 1 and prevent it from falling any lower in the future. The proposal also would plug a higher percentage figure (9.9 instead of the current 7 percent) into the legislative formula linking the tax rate to fuel prices. This change would accelerate the likely tax increase expected when fuel prices rise in future years.

Economists for the legislature, the state Department of Transportation and the Office of State Budget and Management agreed on this economic forecast, based on fuel price forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Projections

Current law Senate proposal
Year Tax (cents) Revenue (billions) Tax (cents) Revenue (billions)
2016 30.4 $2.91 35.0 $3.15
2017 31.3 $2.99 36.4 $3.25
2018 33.8 $3.16 40.5 $3.51
2019 34.2 $3.19 41.0 $3.54

Source: N.C. General Assembly Fiscal Research

Clearly, this is not a tax cut.

Opposite ends of the political spectrum agree.

“The gas tax ‘cut’ in Senate Bill 20 is a transparent Trojan Horse,” said Donald Bryson, North Carolina Director of Americans for Prosperity.   “Its misrepresentation defies the responsibility of elected representatives to communicate honestly with the taxpayers they work for.  The bill implements a permanent gas tax increase in July and the people of this state – all of us – deserve an acknowledgement of that fact from Senate leaders. Moving forward, we expect the House to be responsible with the bill by having more debate and, at the very least, provide taxpayers some protection with a gas tax ceiling.  This would help North Carolinians understand the true impact of Senate Bill 20.”

“If Senate Republicans want to pump over a billion dollars in extra taxes out of North Carolina families who are already struggling to make ends meet, they should be upfront about it instead of rushing an intentionally deceptive bait-and-switch proposal through the General Assembly,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress North Carolina Action. “Lawmakers think they can fool voters by passing a tiny short-term cut which hides a massive long-term increase. Governing through bait-and-switch tax schemes is no way to run a state, and North Carolinians deserve better from their leaders.”

The proposal, having overwhelmingly passed the Senate, now moves on to the House as HB 40.  It probably wouldn’t hurt to contact your elected officials over this one.  Among the sponsors in the House is Mecklenburg’s own Bill Brawley.

Click for full size image

Vote on Senate Bill 20

 

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