Hi Representative Lifferth,
I hope things are going well for you and you are representing our community well while you are in session. I would like to let you know that our family is not in support of an increase of the gas tax. Our young family has felt our budget pinch while gas prices have increased and we are finally getting a little relief with gas prices lower. Please don't increase the tax on gas.
Thanks so much! I appreciate your time!
Thanks for your email. I enjoy discussing these issues and I hope you will continue to share your opinions with me. I will add you to my email list so you can get my newsletters and participate in the surveys that I do. I appreciate your question. Can I post your question and my answer on my blog site www.DavidLifferth.com either with our without your name?
Before I discuss the issue in greater detail, I want you to know that I oppose raising taxes in general. I will not vote for a tax increase on gas. I do support changing the structure from a fixed tax to a sales tax. Like the current gas tax, this sales tax on fuel would be dedicated to transpiration and roads and not go into the General Fund. I am also very happy at the new lower price of fuel. I heard that is the equivalent of a $200 per month reduction in taxes for the average family. This cost reduction has been a needed relief for families. It is important to note that this reduction is due to increase in world wide production of gasoline. Primarily, from new reserves on private land. While many on the left have opposed new drilling, this is the direct result of fracking and new technologies that let us extract oil from shale. Sarah Palin was scorned for her "Drill Baby, Drill" mantra, however, it is that attitude that has given the average family $200 more spending dollars each month.
We don't have a fixed sales tax of $0.45 on a gallon of milk or a fixed tax of 2 cents per egg. We have a sales tax that fluctuates with the price of the items. The reason that I support doing this on fuel is that the price of gasoline tracks very closely with the price of asphalt which is the primary driver of cost in road building and repair. If they didn't historically track together then it wouldn't make as much sense.
The reason that Senator Van Tassell has proposed a gas tax increase is because of loss of value in the existing gas tax. When the gas tax was last raised nearly 20 years ago, the total price of gas was about $1.25 per gallon so the $0.24 cents per gallon was about 20% tax rate. When gas was $3.50 per gallon the tax rate was only 7%. Also due to inflammation the 24 cents per gallon has about half of the buying power that it did 20 years ago. The argument that Senator Van Tassell is making that we need to re-coup the lost buying power of the 24 cents per galling fuel tax to where it was in the past. While I will vote against his proposal, I fully understand his argument. I was surprised that his bill passed unanimously from the Senate Transportation committee which has many conservative republicans on that committee. That means it will probably pass the full senate vote and come to House Transportation Committee that I serve on. As I said, I will vote against it, but I don't know how others on my committee will vote.
I am not for raising taxes, however, I am even more opposed to borrowing money from future generations to increase our standard of living now. If we need roads now, we need to be responsible enough to pay for them now. Statistically, we in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs are the longest commuters in the state. We need roads to get to and from our jobs. So we need good roads that efficiently move us to and from our destinations. Fuel taxes are a 'use' tax that requires those that use the roads to pay for them. Most cities in Utah are not maintaining their current roads with the increase traffic volumes. It is not so bad yet for us in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain because we have fairly new roads. However, in cities with aging roads and insufficient fuel tax revenues to properly maintaining the roads they are turning to gravel. Drive around on the older roads in Provo and Orem and you will see what are new cities have in their future if we don't change anything.
Let me know your thoughts on changing from a flat tax to a sales tax on fuel.