Gas tax could increase by 10 cents, a potentially 125 percent increase, under a new bill set to be debated Thursday on the floor of the Texas House.
SB 855, introduced by John Corona (R-Texas) would allow several metro areas in Texas to hold referendums on whether to instate “local option gas tax increases,” or else increase raise parking and vehicle fees.
The original bill was only for the Dallas area, but Sen. Corona has since introduced a committee substitute to it that added Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
Revenue generated from the proposed gas tax increases would mainly go toward building more local light rail. The tax would also be indexed for inflation, meaning it could increase in perpetuity as prices do.
In a letter to Sen. Corona, the Texas Public Policy Institute noted that Dallas County’s expenditures increased 16.5 percent from 2005 to 2007, in spite of a population increase of only 2.7 percent and the burden on taxpayers was already great, particularly in the middle of a recession.
“If the state and local communities believe transportation is in crisis, we suggest that this excessive spending be diverted to transportation funding,” the letter states.
Defending the bill, Carona stated in a Senate hearing, "If we pass this today, we couldn't get it out there for another 24 months. You wouldn't want to wait until everything (with the economy) was better,” reports Americans for Tax Reform.
If the bill passes the House it will return to the Senate to approve any changes before heading to Gov. Perry’s desk.
Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.