NFIB members are divided over gas tax.
Alabamans May Pay More at the Pump This Year
According to some, the time may have come for a gas tax increase in Alabama.
If approved, this would be the first increase to the tax since 1992. While voters have rejected efforts to raise the gas tax in previous years, the combination of infrastructure repair needs and low fuel costs may provide an opening for proponents to push it through this year.
The state’s transportation infrastructure recently received a C- grade on an assessment conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, partly because the revenue from the current gas tax has not been sufficient to properly build and maintain roads and other infrastructure components. In 1992, Alabama legislators set the gas tax at a per-gallon cost of 16 cents rather than a percentage, so revenue did not rise with gas prices in the years following. And as cars have become more fuel-efficient and fuel prices have recently plummeted, this revenue stream has slowed even more.
In January, the Joint Transportation Committee held a series of meetings to gauge need and support for a potential gas tax increase proposal. So far, the response has been mixed.
Some—such as the Alabama State Port Authority and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce—have noted that the state’s poor infrastructure is a competitive disadvantage that hampers development and could cause Mobile’s Container Terminal to suffer if trucks can’t move quickly out of the area. As a result, the Alabama Truckers Association supports a tax hike, as do the Department of Transportation and the Roadbuilders Association. The Alabama Media Group also reported that Gov. Bentley and the Business Council of Alabama would support a gas tax increase, and the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama has initiated a “Drive Alabama” campaign in support of the increase.
Some voters would support the tax if fuel costs remained low, and others are opposed. NFIB members are also divided. Rosemary Elebash, NFIB’s Alabama state director, says small business owners were polled on the subject with the 2015 member survey and responses came back with nearly a 50/50 split.