At the State of the State address on Jan. 30, Gov. Bill Haslam announced his plans to add a seven cent per gallon sales tax increase to gas and a 12 cent per gallon increase for diesel. Haslam wants to implement this gas tax increase due to the fact that the state is currently facing a $6 billion road project backlog.
The road project backlog is essentially all of the road projects approved by the Tennessee General Assembly that are currently underdeveloped.
Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase is set to start in July. This tax increase is estimated to net the Department of Transportation an additional $227.8 million. The plan will index the gas tax to the Consumer Price Index, meaning the rate will fluctuate with inflation.
This will mark the first time since 1989 the state of Tennessee has raised its gas tax.
Some ETSU students don’t seem to mind this sales tax increase.
ETSU sophomore Pierce Vaughn believes this gas tax increase is a good idea, though he is curious to see who this gas tax will affect the most.
“I don’t think it will be felt too badly from us college students, since only seven cents per gallon is not much of a tax burden,” he said. “It also depends on where the burden of the tax is felt, be that on companies selling the gas or us as the consumer.”
ETSU senior Morgan Parker also likes the idea of the gas tax increase Haslam has proposed.
“Gov. Haslam is raising money with this proposed gas tax increase for a good cause,” he said. “A lot of Tennessee’s road are pretty rundown, and I don’t see a better option for raising money for the road project backlog other than taxing something else.”
ETSU professor of accountancy, and former University Vice President, Richard Manahan, supports the governor’s proposal as well.
“I think maintaining the roads in Tennessee is essential,” he said. “There are a number of legislators who have looked at other options to provide money for the road themselves… Anytime you can tax the people that are making the maximum use of whatever the tax is for is the best way to do that.”
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