By Keri Adams
Utah legislators are considering a 5 cent increase in Utah”s state gasoline tax.
Revenue from the motor fuel tax is used to maintain roads in Utah. All state gas taxes must, in accordance with the Utah State Constitution, be spent on highways.
Utah”s combined motor fuel tax rate is the 18th highest in the country, at 42.9 cents per gallon. This includes 24.5 cents in state tax and 18.4 cents in federal tax, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
If the increase is approved, Utah”s gasoline tax would be the ninth highest in the nation.
Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Hudachko said every cent increase in the gas tax brings $13 million in revenue, with about $10 million going to the state transportation fund and the rest going to the cities.
Michael Waddoups, Senate majority leader, said the Senate is progressing towards an increase, but it won”t happen this year.
“Our road needs are overwhelming and the gas tax is not adjusted for inflation,” Waddoups said.
Although automobile mileage is increasing, revenues are still decreasing.
John Valentine, Senate majority whip, said raising the gas tax right now would not be the best solution.
“I do not support a gas tax increase at this time,” Valentine said. “The Utah economy is just coming back from a major downturn. To kill the recovery when it is just starting does not make any sense.”
Dan Johnson, manager of Public Affairs for Chevron Corporation, said Chevron is neutral on this issue as long as any increase in the tax is devoted to improving roads and other transportation needs.
An increase in the gas tax will not affect BYU because as an educational institution, it is exempt from paying a gas tax, said Scott Sherwood, BYU director of Transportation Vehicles.
Brittany Brown, a Provo resident who works in West Valley City and goes to school in Salt Lake City, has concerns about raising the state tax on motor fuel.
“I do way too much traveling in the week,” Brown said. “I would be very upset if we raised the gas prices.”