Gas Tax Band-Aid, Not This Time

Posted in The Budget, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Commentary, Around The State at 9:44 am by wcnews

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer has an admirable goal, to bring some relief to Texans gas bills over the Summer, but it’s a too little at a time when we need sweeping change. Like peeing in the ocean. The amendment to to add a 3 month, 20 cent/gallon, gas tax holiday to to SB 1886 (RV# 1065) passed with near unanimous support. The vote was 118 - 16, Alan Ritter and Mark Strama were the only Democrats voting against.

Last year when REp. Martinez Fischer put this forward I posted on it. I had reservations, but after listening in on a conference call, decided it was worth a shot. Not anymore. Some of the issues with this is that it’s a Democrat reinforcing a Republican theme that tax cuts make the world go ’round. Another is that it would be nice to have this now but then in September, as the kids go back to school, we’ll get hit with that 20 cent increase. Also hopefully the pain of the higher price will drive down demand, and the price soon after. Also check out what Whos Playin? had to say about it last year. That said the bill doesn’t even guarantee the money has to be passed down to the customer, from this DMN article, House favors gas tax break.

The bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor ($2,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail) for gasoline dealers to fail to pass on the tax savings, and the attorney general would be empowered to investigate any complaints along those lines and seek charges.

I’m sure the AG will be chasing down these crimes in that three month window.

Another part of the DMN article was that Rep. Mike Krusee tried to add an amendment to to the bill (SB 1886) to index the gas tax, which is what really needs to happen, and it failed.

Just before approving Mr. Martinez Fischer’s measure, House members left little doubt where they stand on fuel taxes, overwhelmingly rejecting a measure that would have allowed the gas tax to rise according to an index that mirrors the inflation rate.

Rep. Mike Krusee, the House’s Transportation Committee chairman, pointed out that the gas tax has been stuck at 20 cents a gallon since 1991. He argued that with the Legislature poised to approve a two-year ban on private toll-road agreements, Texas needs to find other ways to pay for roads to accommodate the state’s rapid growth.

“There aren’t many tools left,” said Mr. Krusee, R-Round Rock. “This is about all there is. This is our traditional method of financing roads.”

But House members were in no mood to raise the gas tax, even if only to keep up with inflation. They rebuffed Mr. Krusee’s measure, 122-19.

“We’re already at three bucks and going north,” said Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland. “I just don’t feel it’s a time to go forward with this.”

Now I’m sure Rep. Krusee did that so he can say, “Look I tried”. Which is another reason this is bad. An anti-tax, pro-corporate toll representative, is only doing this to reinforce his point that tolls are the only option we have to build roads because the legislature it too scared to vote to index the gas tax.

Which leads us back to everything that’s wrong with how we fund and build, or don’t fund and build, our transportation infrastructure in this state. We need comprehensive reform in this area and band-aids like this will do nothing to help in that regard. I’ll give Rep. Martinez Fischer credit for trying something to help the average folk, but this just ain’t worth it.

1 Comment »

  1. salcostello said,

    May 9, 2007 at 2:10 pm


    POLITICOS ARE CRYING THAT THE GAS TAX DOESN’T GET US ENOUGH MONEY FOR OUR ROADS, so much so that they are tolling freeways we’ve already paid for (a double tax!). And the same CORRUPT politicos profit from the tolls!

    Sal “The Muckraker” Costello

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