UPDATE: Governor Kay Ivey will announce her Transportation Infrastructure Plan on Wednesday, and it will likely include the 12 cents per gallon gas tax increase to pay for it.
The last time Alabama raised its state gas tax, George Bush was still President of the United States. That's the first George Bush. That was also the year the Cartoon Network was founded, and the state-of-the-art Georgia Dome opened in Atlanta. You know, the stadium that was blocked by a bus when it was imploded more than a year ago. The gas tax in Alabama last increased in 1992. Since then, cars have gotten more fuel efficient, creating a drain on revenues; while the costs to build roads and bridges have continued to rise. In fact, a dollar of gas tax revenue today is worth just 55 cents compared to its worth in 1992.
So it's no surprise that Alabama's leaders are talking about a gas tax increase; the bigger surprise might be what took them so long. According to a story at NBC 15, the state legislature will tackle the gas tax issue next month. Mayors across the state are backing a 12 cent per gallon increase, eight cents of which would go for state highways funding. Counties would see 3 cents per gallon, and cities another penny. The governor also supports an increase. So does the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama.
While 12 cents a gallon may seem like a lot, it would put Alabama's gas taxes in line with surrounding states and still less than the national average. Florida's total fuel taxes are 60 cents per gallon, and even with a 12 cent increase, Alabama's taxes would still be around 9 cents per gallon lower -- at about 51 cents per gallon, including all federal, state and local taxes. The gas tax would also remain lower than it is currently in Georgia (53.7 cents) and Tennessee (51.8 cents), but the tax in Alabama is already higher than in Mississippi (37.5 cents).
I've written before about gas taxes; and I'm generally of the mindset that people won't mind a reasonable increase, if the tax money is being used for its intended purpose. Well, that may be a sticking point. ALDOT says that $63.5 million in gas tax revenue is annually handed over to the courts and law enforcement. So we'll see how it goes, and what the final compromise works out to be. It may be a 12 cent per gallon increase, or it may be less. But it certainly looks inevitable.
Would A Higher Gas Tax Really Bother Anyone?
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]