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New Report Examines Gasoline Tax Proposals in Various States

Gas tax increases for individual states could have a couple of outcomes: improve infrastructure and raise the price of fuel which will affect how you operate your equipment and vehicles. Courtesy of Monty Books

The success or failure of state-level plans to increase gas taxes can be tied to how the media covers those proposals, concludes a recently released report from the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center.

The report examined six states -- Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont -- where lawmakers debated raising gas taxes between 2006 and 2009 to close infrastructure gaps.

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Those proposed increases were approved by the state legislatures in Minnesota in 2008, and Vermont and Oregon in 2009. In Idaho and Massachusetts, governor-proposed increases were rejected by lawmakers. The New Hampshire State Senate voted down a measure to increase the gas tax that had been approved by that state's House of Representatives.

Clearly, there are many possible explanations for the success and failure of gasoline tax increases at the state level, according to the report. In each state, the details of the policy debate, the relationships between political parties and policy actors, and the overall context differ.

Nonetheless, the report does draw on news coverage of those proposals in the local media as well as Associated Press wire service reports to find at least some clues to the ultimate policy outcomes. States such as Minnesota and Vermont, as outlined in the report, proved successful in enacting gas tax increases due to the huge emphasis on phrases like ''crumbling infrastructure'' in news reports. That imagery of aging and crumbling infrastructure, the report notes, proved especially resonant among lawmakers and the public.

Oregon, the report underscores, proved similarly successful in pushing through an increase because of the focus on economic progress. ''Policymakers in the legislature and executive branch consistently emphasized the link between gas-tax increases and job creation,'' according to the report.

- Courtesy of AASHTO


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February 26, 2020, 9:26 pm PDT

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