Thursday, December 07, 2006

Eight-cent gas tax could replace tollways

New toll roads aren't the only pathway to financing the state's transportation needs, according to a recent report commissioned by the Governor's Business Council (GBC). An eight cent increase in the gas tax indexed for inflation may be all that's needed to pay for new state roads over the next 25 years.
In outlining the report at the Nov. 28 meeting of the Study Commission on Transportation Financing, David Ellis of the Texas Transportation Institute offered lawmakers several toll-less financing alternatives to meet the state's future transportation needs in the eight largest metropolitan areas.
A flat increase in the gas tax, Ellis said, is possible but not optimal. "The fuel tax loses buying power to inflation every year because it is a tax based on the unit of volume. It's not related to costs of projects," he said. Nonetheless, he said, a 31-cent increase per gallon in the gas tax would provide for the Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) unfunded needs, as opposed to the estimated $1.21 increase frequently cited by Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) chairman Ric Williamson.

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