Gas Tax: Fraction Of A Penny Increase In The New Year

Across Georgia gas prices will be slightly higher come 2017 as a new gas tax will take effect on January 1. The increase will raise the tax 0.3 cents, bringing the total to 31.20 cents per gallon.

Motorists Steve Moreland and Andy Wingate topped off their tanks at the a metro Atlanta QuikTrip station.

“I think the increase in the tax base for the gas is fine,” Moreland said while filling up his full size sedan, “I question whether they’re really gonna use for what they say they’re going to.”

Wingate was skeptical as well, “I see stuff going on but I don’t know if it’s helping.” When asked what he hopes to see happen with this increased revenue, he simply replied, “fix the roads!”

There’s no disputing that roads and infrastructure across Georgia are in need of repairs and federal funding has not been enough. In 2015, with bipartisan support, state lawmakers passed HB 170 to change the way Georgia taxes gasoline

CREDIT ROBERT JIMISON / GPB
In the last few years several states have increased gas taxes, according to Carl Davis, senior analyst at the nonprofit Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.

“The gas tax is the single most important way that states and the federal government pay for roads and bridges and other transportation infrastructure improvements,” Davis said.

Davis said Georgia is among seven states across the country that will experience tax rate hikes. “Since 2013 we’ve seen 19 states enact gas tax increases of gas tax reforms,” he said, “and there’ll be at least a dozen states that will discuss doing the same thing next year.”

According to the Davis, the old gas tax, a sales tax that changed with the price of gas, made it difficult for transportation departments to plan long term budgets. The switch to a pure excise tax is aimed at making budgeting and planning easier for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

 

Georgia’s increase, a fraction of a penny, will not have a huge impact on what consumers pay. The revenue, however, will greatly increase the number of roadway improvement projects.

“We’ve already begun to see orange barrels and cones all around the state,” said Seth Millican. “The state DOT has begun to do more work and you’ll continue to see more of that.”

Millican is the head of the Georgia Transportation Alliance, he says that unlike other statewide problems, transportation is an easy fix – it just needs more money.

“You are paying a little bit more at the pump when you buy gas,” Millican said, “but you’re also going to see a lot more work and a lot more progress on roads and bridges that may have gone unrepaired for quite some time.”

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