Preliminary Thoughts on the Gas Tax
We are studying Governor Haslam's gas tax initiative. It is not perfect - we oppose some elements, such as increased fees registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. However, the plan’s option for local governments to fund their own mass transit system is vitally important for the future of the state.
The gas tax has remained unchanged since 1989. It is a per gallon tax, not a percentage, and it is not indexed to inflation. The purchasing power from the tax has dropped every year that there has been inflation, at the same time that it grows more expensive to build roads. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s population is growing and our infrastructure needs along with it. While we are sensitive to the effect of increased prices on Tennessee’s citizens, we must find a sustainable way to fund our state’s roads.
In 2014, 28% of energy consumed in Tennessee went to transporting people and goods. As more people move to Tennessee we can expect air quality to suffer from increased fossil fuel use and commutes to grow longer, unless we can implement mass transit. This means transportation and transportation policy is very much an environmental issue.
We believe that this initiative must be passed, both as a matter of good government and to give local governments the freedom to make responsible transportation investments.