2017’s First Gas-Tax Attack

It was inevitable — and now it’s here.

Throughout the Republic, hiking taxes on gasoline is popular with both Democratic and Republican state legislators and governors. Falling for the “infrastructure” argument, pols claim that the levy increases are “needed” not merely to fix roads and bridges, but to foster “economic development.”

There’s not much truth in that assertion, but it’s not stopping two members of New Mexico’s House of Representatives from pushing potential gas-tax hikes. “Bobby” Gonzales (D-Ranchos De Taos) and Randal Crowder (R-Clovis) have sponsored HB 63.

Currently, only Class A and Class H counties, and the municipalities they contain, can impose local gasoline taxes. Fearing, no doubt, the wrath of voters — who tend to be drivers, too — pols in the dozens of jurisdictions that qualify have begged off, even though potential hikes are limited to 2¢.

Now, Gonzales and Crowder want to allow every county and municipality, with voter approval, to grab more gasoline-tax revenue. And they want to raise the cap, too — to 5¢. If both local governments where you live went to the limit, you’d be paying 59 percent more in taxes at the pump. (The state’s levy is 17¢.)

For years, the Foundation has been in the forefront of exposing gas-tax mania. Looks like there will be plenty of work for us on the issue in 2017. One thing we’re watching is Kentucky’s recent decision to repeal its prevailing-wage law. It’s sure to make taxpayers’ infrastructure dollars go farther in the Bluegrass State. Here at home, no prevailing-wage repeal has been drafted, but the reform bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) is worth watching.