by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
For years North Carolina gas tax has been tied to the price of petroleum, which is tied to the price of asphalt, which is tied to the cost of building roads. Senate Bill 20 would change that formula to ensure less volatility, more budget predictability for the Department of Transportation and more revenue for growing needs.
We’re now the 9th largest state in the country. More people mean more needs, more jobs, more businesses, more commerce, more prosperity. We have to have the roads to accommodate and feed a growing economy. Roads take a long time to build and they are expensive. Long term needs are in the $65 -70 Billion range. How do we ensure a revenue stream to meet the needs?
The Senate’s idea sets a gas tax floor price of 35 cents, a tax cut from today’s price. The proposal would likely lead to a higher gas tax in later years as it is adjusted annually, bringing in additional revenue for roads. If they are going to create a floor they should also create a ceiling. The deal for taxpayers is gas tax will go up, but you know how much. The deal for DOT is a less volatile revenue stream and more budget predictability. Everyone agrees a strong, safe and well designed infrastructure is vital to North Carolina’s economy. Building roads is a core function of government and it has to be done right and responsibly.
Let’s talk about the best way to get there. The Senate has started the conversation.