Democrats propose state fuel tax holiday

Link to article here.

Apparently the bill won’t get traction from Republicans because they’re too busy raising taxes in spite of an $8.2 billion surplus. Concern over gas prices tops nearly every national poll. With gas prices at or near $3 a gallon, people do not have the discretionary income to pay tolls on top of fuel costs (see post here and here). So again, why is TxDOT proceeding to toll nearly every highway improvement project in Texas?

Democrats propose state fuel tax holiday
By Isadora Vail
Express-News Austin Bureau
Web Posted: 04/28/2006 12:00 AM CDT

AUSTIN — Democrats in the Texas Legislature hope temporarily curtailing the state’s gasoline tax will ease some of the pain drivers are feeling at the pumps.

They filed House Bill 120 on Thursday to stop collecting the state’s 20 cents per gallon in gas tax for the next 90 days. However, the proposal has little chance of gaining traction with GOP lawmakers in the special session.

“Gas prices in San Antonio are through the roof, and some places it is more than $3 a gallon,” said State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. “People want gas tax relief just as much as property tax relief.”

Rachael Novier, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said “the governor is focused on the Texas Supreme Court mandate of school finance reform and property tax relief.”

She said once those issues are solved, Perry would consider putting other bills, including the gas tax, on the session’s agenda.

“With regards to this specific issue, I would have to question whether the Democrats are talking out of both ends of their mouths,” Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said.

“Democrats say they want to better education, but this would take away from it. Twenty-five percent of gas tax is dedicated to education every year, and that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Martinez Fischer said this issue isn’t a partisan issue, and he doesn’t know of anyone who would oppose the bill, but this bill doesn’t look like it will see the House chambers any time this session.

The “Gas Tax Holiday” would save about $2.50 a tank, Martinez Fischer said.

The bill would replace the roughly $800 million in lost gas revenue with a federal transportation fund the state received last year called an equity bonus program, or with funds from the $8.2 billion state surplus.