Public Still Wary of Gas Tax Hikes

By: - February 22, 2012 12:00 am

Proposals to raise Iowa’s gas taxes by up to a dime a gallon are divisive at the state capitol, but Iowa’s residents seem to have reached consensus: They are firmly against the idea. Two out of three Iowans say they oppose the increases, according to The Des Moines Register .

Iowa is not the only state where the public remains unconvinced of the need to hike gas taxes. Recent polls from Michigan and Maryland show similar levels of opposition, an obstacle for governors in both states.

In Maryland, as Stateline reported earlier this month, Governor Martin O’Malley wants lawmakers to apply the state’s sales tax to gasoline, rather than increase the existing per-gallon gas tax. That way, revenues would automatically go up when the price of gasoline increases, which would avoid a contentious fight in the legislature every time the state needs more money for roads.

But in the meantime, Maryland residents are wary of gas tax increases. The Washington Post asked Maryland residents about a more straightforward plan of simply raising the per-gallon tax. Marylanders were closely divided when they were asked about a nickel-a-gallon increase, with 50 percent against it and 48 percent for it, within the survey’s margin of error. But opposition grew much stronger, to a 72-26 margin, when they weighed in on a dime-a-gallon tax hike.  

Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has encouraged lawmakers to spend more money to improve the state’s infrastructure. One proposal would raise the gas tax by 9 cents a gallon, with increases in vehicle registration fees, too. A poll commissioned by the Detroit Free Press and four local TV stations found that 58 percent of respondents opposed the idea, compared to 36 percent who favored it. (The question did not mention a specific dollar amount for the tax hike or registration fee increases.)

If the numbers are daunting, at least most of the proponents of such measures seem to understand they face an uphill battle. “We know people don’t want to pay more money,” Michigan state Representative Rick Olson, a Republican, told theFree Press, “But roads don’t just fix themselves.”

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