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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/08/11

Transportation Committee Votes to End Automatic Indexing of Gas Tax

AUGUSTA - In an 8-5 work session vote, Republicans on the Transportation Committee voted today to end the automatic indexing of the gasoline tax, which has been in effect for more than a decade.

During the next biennial budget period, beginning July 1, drivers would save an estimated $12.5 million in additional gas taxes if the committee's decision survives budget negotiations. In fiscal year 2014, motorists would save about $14 million, according to budget documents, because the tax compounds on itself.

"This was part of Governor LePage's budget proposal," said Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples), House chair of the panel. "He understands that putting the tax on auto pilot is offensive to a huge number of Maine motorists. Members of the committee know that Maine citizens really resent this tax, which kicks in every July 1, regardless of the cost of fuel."

Rep. Cebra said this issue is a major policy concern and today's vote represents a shift in direction in favor of Maine drivers. "Republicans on the Transportation Committee understand the state's needs and budgetary issues surrounding our highway infrastructure," he said, "but they decided to send a strong message that we can do more within existing resources. We can set goals and objectives and do more with less, because there's too much bloat in the system right now.

"Maine already has the second-highest gas tax in New England," he added. "With the cost of gas becoming a backbreaking expense for many Maine families, the last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden."

"Indexing is just a way for politicians to avoid going on record to raise taxes," said Rep. Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton), a member of the Transportation Committee. "If we need more money for the Highway Fund, then we should have the courage to vote for an increase and not hide behind a formula. This is part of being more transparent and playing straight with the people of Maine." ###

Contact:
Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445