TAKE A LOOK AT THE NEWLY-APPROVED GAS TAX BILL
The Alabama Senate passed Gov. Kay Ivey’s bill to increase the state’s gasoline tax this week.
The bill was introduced a week ago during a special session called by Ivey and passed five days later.
“That is the shortest time I have ever seen a governor get something accomplished in my time of following politics, and I’ve been following it for over 50 years,” political analyst Steve Flowers said.
The bill introduces a $0.10 tax – from $0.18 to $0.28 – over the next three years. The first increase, a $0.06 hike, will begin Sept. 1, 2019. Another $0.02 will be added to that on Oct. 1, 2020, and $0.02 more will complete the hike on Oct. 1, 2021.
“Alabama’s gas tax is the lowest in the Southeast and it will still be one of the lowest even with this increase,” Flowers said. “But in order to keep up with our sister states in economic development, you’ve got to have, roads you’ve got to have transportation and a lot of our rural roads need fixing too.”
Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, sponsored the bill. He said the money collected from the tax increase will strictly go to road and bridge projects around the state.
“Usually Republicans are reluctant to vote to increase taxes,” Flowers said. “In this case, they saw the need and did it.”
The bill also includes several annual fees. The fee for the gasoline-alternative cars will be dropped once they make up at least 4 percent of the state’s registered cars.
“I just think they’re anticipating that as environmentally friendly cars become more popular, they won’t be excluded from paying the tax because those cars still will use the roads,” Flowers said.
The increase won’t start right away, but people do have mixed feelings knowing they are about to pay more at the pump.
“I think that is was necessary,” Alabama resident Ronny Johnston said. “It won’t be easy for everyone and none of us like to pay more tax, but if you travel our state, our roads and our bridges are in bad shape compared to other places I’ve been, so I support this move.”
Others, however, believe the Alabama legislature has its priorities misaligned.
“How are they going to up the price of gas but they’re not upping the pay in our check?” Alabama resident Shanta Williams said. “You know, that’s ridiculous… I travel, you know, an hour or so commute or longer, but there is other money they could use besides take tax dollar money from the people.”
The bill also has an inflation rider, which allows lawmakers to add another $0.01 to the tax every two years after the initial three years.
As Flowers said, many of our state legislators who ordinarily vote against increases for taxes and spending supported this bill. One of them is District 14 Rep. Tim Wadsworth, who said Alabama’s next generation of residents is why he voted in favor of the increase.
“This is just a bill that, when it comes down to it, I had to support,” Wadsworth, a Republican congressman, said. “Right now, the amount of fuel tax has dropped because of fuel efficiency over $100 million. So we are getting $100 million in fuel tax compared to what we received in 2012, while the number of trucks and vehicles on the highway has increased 46 percent.”
Wadsworth said this is the first time he has ever voted for a tax increase.