(KCPW News) While Utah lawmakers aren’t eager to raise most taxes, a Senate committee approved a bill this morning to increase the gas tax by five cents, making it nearly 30 cents per gallon. Republican Senator Kevin Van Tassell said the state doesn’t have the funds it needs to adequately maintain its highways.
“It’s been fifteen years, give or take, since we’ve had any increase,” he said. “Our economy within our vehicles has increased. The dollar has continued to have inflation.”
The bill has the support of the Salt Lake Chamber, which has advocated for a gas tax increase for several years, the Utah Association of Counties, and the Utah Truckers Association.
But Rolayne Fairclough with AAA Utah argued now is the wrong time for a gas tax hike.
“We believe that this is an incredibly steep tax for trying to recover from this downturn in the economy,” she said. “If this tax did indeed pass, we would have the 17th highest gasoline tax in the country. Right now we have the 24th highest, we’re right in the middle.”
Van Tassell’s bill would also continue to raise the gas tax by three-quarters of a cent every year, starting in 2013. It passed on a three-to-zero vote, and will now be debated by the full Utah Senate.