GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Are you willing to spend more money to get better roads? The Legislature will be debating multiple plans to raise that money, including a proposed increase in the gas tax.
The gas tax is the primary source of money for the state's highway fund, which pays for highway maintenance. The tax is currently 30 cents per gallon. But because most cars are more fuel efficient than they once were, the state has not been getting enough revenue from the gas tax to keep up with needed repairs.
There are several bills facing g lawmakers to get more money, including one from Rep. Andrew Maclean of Gorham – House chairman of the Legislature's transportation committee – who has a plan to basically make every driver pay more. It includes a tax on hybrid vehicles of $200 per year and a seven-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax.
"[T]he reality is it costs money, and the fuel tax is the most efficient way of collecting revenue for roads and bridges," Rep. MacLean said. "Whether people like to pay taxes or not they recognize we need good roads and bridges."
There is likely to be plenty of opposition, including the Senate chair of the same committee, Republican Sen. Ron Collins.
"Maine people are taxed enough," Sen. Collins said. "A lot of people in Maine travel great distances from home to work. This would take away from their disposable income by increasing the gas tax."
MacLean's bill will be heard Tuesday, but there are other bills for a similar purpose.
The Maine DOT said Gov. LePage is proposing a bill that would also tax hybrids. It would also require towns and cities to use their excise tax income on roads and give their commercial truck excise tax money to the state.
There's another bill that would take all the money from motor vehicle-related sales taxes – about $140 million per year – and put that in the highway fund.