ETX legislator proposes gas tax hike to get TxDOT out of debt
AUSTIN, TX (KLTV) -
Texas State Senator Kevin Eltife is proposing a 10 cent increase in the tax Texans pay for each gallon of gas at the pump.
It's one of many ideas intended to help TxDOT get out of billions of dollars in debt.
From the senate floor in Austin, Eltife says the state should take a lesson from one East Texas City.
Raising taxes may not sound like the conservative thing to do, but Eltife insists it's the responsible thing to do when it comes to getting TxDOT out of debt. He says they've racked up a $13 billion bill-funding road projects with bonds for the last 10 years.
"We ought to be paying cash for these projects-- not going into debt. Debt is a future tax on a future generation," Eltife says.
He suggests the state uses the City of Tyler's half-cent sales tax program as a model. Since that was approved, more than $100 million dollars of city improvements like Earl Campbell Parkway, the Grande extension, new parks and fire houses have been paid for in cash.
"A lot of people didn't want to pass the sales tax. They said it was a new tax we didn't need. And now, look at what it has done for us. We've cut property taxes and we pay cash for all of our improvements," Eltife says.
The City of Tyler adopted the half-cent sales tax program when Senator Eltife was the mayor of Tyler.
Eltife says a 10 cent gas tax increase would go a long way in solving TxDOT's debt problem, but right now he wants all options for increasing revenue on the table.
"Vehicle inspection stickers is an option... sales tax is an option. I'm open to any option, but we've got to quit selling bonds; We've got to quit going into debt and we've got to get our state on a pay-as-you-go basis," he says.
To keep up with the state's infrastructure, TxDOT says they'll need at least $4 billion in new revenue each year. Eltife says that's going to require a new tax and ignoring the problem now is only going make things worse down the road.
The current tax rate Texans pay at the pump is 20 cents for every gallon. That gas tax rate has not been raised in more than 20 years.