Almost no one wants to pay higher taxes, and Arizona lawmakers have made raising them difficult. Meanwhile, the state’s gasoline tax has not been raised since 1991, as construction costs have risen along with traffic and vehicles have become more efficient, which means a fill-up yields less tax revenue. Now a bill moving through the Legislature would raise the gas tax in steps.
As we’ve said before, the state clearly needs more revenue for building roads, which carry ever more traffic. Pinal County residents passed a half-cent sales tax increase for new roads, but it has been held up in court. There finally is early action on widening Interstate 10 north of Casa Grande, but many other projects are needed.
The bill proposed by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, would raise the state gas tax six cents a year for three years until it doubles to 36 cents. The measure recently passed the House Transportation Committee. The bill includes higher fees for alternative vehicles as well, which is fair.
Getting this measure enacted will not be easy, but it makes sense. Gas prices are lower than they were a few years ago and likely will not change drastically because of major U.S. production of oil. Now is the time to take action.