Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gas tax 'holiday': "It's cheap political gimmickry. It's also bad government."

No jolly holiday here

May. 10, 2007

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2007

It's cheap political gimmickry. It's also bad government.

That pretty well sums up a proposal by state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, to suspend the state gasoline tax of 20 cents a gallon for three months.

Fischer's proposal, an amendment to a bill given preliminary approval by the Texas House on Tuesday, could face much tougher sledding as legislative budget writers move toward final adoption of a biennial state budget. The gas tax holiday should be deep-sixed faster than you can say "political grandstanding."

The tax suspension would, by Fischer's own admission, cost the state an estimated $500 million to $700 million in revenues.

The gas tax, which hasn't been increased since 1991, has been eroded by 16 years of inflation in costs for building new roads and acquiring right of way for them. The tax should be increased, rather than suspended, to provide more funding for the new and expanded roads needed to curtail growing traffic congestion caused by population growth and an enormous jump in vehicle miles traveled.

If the state doesn't boost the gas tax, there are two alternatives, neither of which is pleasant.

We can build more and more toll roads. Do you want to pay tolls on every new road you drive?

We can do nothing and let gridlock continue to lengthen the time of our work commutes and worsen our air quality.

That gas tax holiday doesn't sound quite so appealing anymore, does it?

© 2007 Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

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