In these final weeks of the session, the Texas Legislature is poised to adopt an approach that could permit the gas tax to skyrocket from 20 cents to 45 cents per gallon.

These new transportation tax proposals passed by the House Transportation Committee are being with significant opposition from several research and taxpayer groups, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Eagle Forum, Americans for Prosperity, and the Free Market Foundation.

Legislation approved by the committee during the past 24 hours: House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 855—permits a 15-cent statewide increase of the gas tax within 10 years, as well as a new 10-cent-per-gallon local gas tax. This represents a potential 25-cent increase per gallon, on top of the current 20-cent gas tax — a 125 percent increase within 10 years. While these measures require voter approval, the organizations listed above reject the flawed notion that requiring voter approval makes this measure acceptable.

TFR’s Michael Quinn Sullivan said, “Even though California and New York are trapped in fiscal death spirals, some Texas legislators seem insistent on taking a page from their playbooks. Texas will no longer be able to hold itself out as a beacon of economic sanity if it charts a course to permit raising taxes during a recession.”

TPPF’s Justin Keener said, “The legislature and several local leaders cannot look taxpayers in the eye and say they took even commonsense steps to avoid a tax increase. As these tax bills are heading for passage, lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a budget that will continue to divert billions of dollars in transportation taxes to non-transportation purposes. Furthermore, many cities in the regions seeking increased taxes have chosen not to use their sales-tax authority for transportation projects. Whatever happened to setting priorities with our existing tax dollars before going to the taxpayers and seeking more?”

Jonathan Saenz of the Free Market Foundation: “It appears the legislature does not remember we are in a recession, and that Texas is better positioned than most states because we kept taxes low. To think that the path to economic recovery is through a tax increase is beyond belief.”

Peggy Vanable of Americans for Prosperity: “These bills permit a 125 percent increase in the gasoline taxes paid by Texas drivers. Legislators are holding onto the false notion that by requiring voter approval they are absolving themselves of the reality that this permits a colossal tax increase that is going to impose a tremendous burden on Texas families and businesses. We are concerned that the cap and trade policy promoted by the Obama Administration could cause gas prices to skyrocket. This is not a time to increase taxes.”

Cathie Adams of Texas Eagle Forum: “The legislature’s rush to pass this without public input is shocking. Many citizens in the regions affected by this legislation will be blindsided by the skyrocketing gas taxes they could pay as a result of these bills. Legislators should remember the public backlash the last time they rushed through a massive transportation bill without public input.”

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