Wyoming panel backs plan for 15-cent fuel tax boost

December 7, 2021

Keith Goble

|

In preparation for the upcoming regular session, a Wyoming legislative panel has given the thumbs up to consideration of a 15-cent fuel tax increase.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable way for states to generate additional revenue.

Wyoming’s current tax rate of 24 cents per gallon is unchanged since 2013. At that time, the tax rate was increased by 10 cents.

Round four

The legislative effort for 2022 will mark the fourth time in as many sessions that lawmakers have considered raising road revenue via the state’s fuel tax.

During the 2021 session, the House Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to tap the funding source to enhance support for state and local road work.

The bill called for increasing the 24-cent tax on gas and diesel by 9 cents to 33 cents per gallon over three years. The tax on alternative fuels would have been raised by the same amount.

The legislation did not receive a House floor vote, effectively killing it for the year.

Larger increase pursued

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee voted 9-2 to advance a bill to raise the tax on gas and diesel by 15 cents to 39 cents. The increase would occur in five-cent increments over three years.

The first nickel increase would occur in July 2022. Additional increases would take effect in July 2023 and July 2024 when the tax rate would reach 39 cents.

The tax increase would also apply to alternative fuel vehicles.

Each penny increase is estimated to raise $4.2 million per year.

Funding would be applied for highway construction, repair and maintenance. New fuel tax revenue could not be used for Wyoming Department of Transportation operating or administrative expenses.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation reports a $354 million yearly shortfall.

Despite the $113 million boost WYDOT will receive from the recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the agency says a fuel tax increase would help to fill the remaining funding gap.

Fairness questioned

Rep. Mark Baker, R-Green River, said he opposes the bill because the focus is not solely on the diesel tax.

“I’m going to oppose this bill for the simple reason that it unfairly puts a burden on passenger vehicles. I believe the discussion should revolve around access versus damage,” Baker told the committee.

“To me the damage is being done by the commercial vehicles. So the burden should be placed on them to go ahead and pay for and address the issue.”

Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, challenged his thinking that truckers do not pay their fair share.

“Truckers pay other taxes, not just fuel taxes, to repair the roads.”

The bill can be considered during the regular session that begins Feb. 14. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Wyoming.

 

Lucas Oil

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.