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Despite higher prices at the fuel pump, some Minnesota lawmakers push for increase in tax

Despite higher prices at the fuel pump, some Minnesota lawmakers push for increase in tax

Gasoline is a big expense for a company that has 40 truck drivers clocking 500 miles (800 kilometers) a day, especially with fuel costs hitting new highs all the time.
But that has not stopped Liberty Diversified from supporting a 5-cent (euro.04) increase in Minnesota's 20-cent (euro.15) gasoline tax, to help pay for road projects aimed at clearing up traffic jams around Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
"We don't see it so much as a tax increase but as a business investment," said David Lenzen, executive vice president of Liberty Diversified, a private company that delivers its packaging products around the Upper Midwest. "Gas prices go up and go down, but having our drivers stuck in traffic always costs us money."
Big business has been a key ally to Minnesota lawmakers trying to push through the gasoline tax increase at a time when spiraling prices are making it a tough sell with the public. Other states are going in the opposite direction: Lawmakers in both Connecticut and Texas are pushing summer-long gasoline tax holidays, to give relief to drivers headed to summer getaways.
"At least in our own little way, we can show the people in the state that we can do something for them while we try to figure out the bigger solution to this problem of ridiculous gas prices," said Senator Louis DeLuca, the Republican leader in the Connecticut Senate.
According to the American Automobile Association, the nationwide average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.103 (euro2.29) on Wednesday _ which set a record for the fourth consecutive day.
Minnesota is not the only state looking at raising gasoline tax in the face of those high pump prices. Nebraska lawmakers proposed a 1.8-cent (euro.01) -per-gallon increase, also for road-building, but Republican Governor Dave Heineman says he will veto it because of high gas prices.
In Michigan, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging a 9-cent (euro.07) -per-gallon gas tax tied directly to fixing crumbling highways, although that would be offset by reducing a separate state sales tax on gasoline _ which goes into the state general fund, not to highway projects.
"We're trying to kill two birds with one stone _ getting more money for roads without increasing the amount people pay at the pump," said Representative Craig DeRoche, Michigan's House Republican leader.
In Minnesota, large majorities in both chambers of the Legislature voted for the 5-cent increase. Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty swiftly vetoed it _ and has been quick to mention that with gasoline prices what they are, maybe now is not the time for the state to pile on.


Updated : 2021-10-23 03:35 GMT+08:00