TNReport has collected commentary from legislative leaders who are somewhat united in opposing any gas tax increase in the coming legislative session, especially since the state has a revenue surplus. Excerpts:
“I am not convinced we need to raise taxes to fund the road program right now,” McCormick said. “We do have to pay for it, and at some point we will have to address that, and we want to study it very closely and make sure we are doing the right thing. A tax increase is a last resort, not a first resort.”
Rep. Casada said Friday that House Republican leadership is aligned behind the idea that “we need to take the excess (general fund) revenue and put it toward the Department of Transportation to meet those immediate needs.”
He said majority-party lawmakers who oppose raising the gas tax are not unsympathetic to Haslam administration transportation officials who’re arguing that road improvement ought to be prioritized. But raising any tax is a tough sell when the citizenry has already over-contributed resources for what state government budgeted, he said.
“We have a surplus now and we had a surplus last year,” Casada said. “Let’s deal with that first and not take more money from the taxpayers.”
Casada doubts there’s enough support even on the House Transportation Committee to move legislation that aims to take more money from truckers and motorists at Tennessee fuel pumps.
“This is not the year to raise the gas tax,” he said.
…“We are not ready to do it yet,” said Tracy, who was in Knoxville and Fentress County for road-funding roundtables last week. “I don’t think the legislators are convinced of the need yet. I don’t think the citizens are convinced of the need.”