Gas tax hike dead, alternative fuel parity survives

Katie Campbell//February 20, 2019

Gas tax hike dead, alternative fuel parity survives

Katie Campbell//February 20, 2019

Red and rusty gas can that says Gasoline on it, Isolated on White Background.

A Republican bill to increase the state gas tax ‒ a proposal that the sponsor conceded was unlikely to be popular from the beginning ‒ will go no further this legislative session.

Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, sought a 25-cent increase over the next five fiscal years, which would have brought Arizona’s gas tax to 43 cents by Fiscal Year 2024; the original bill would have increased the tax by FY 2022 but was amended by Campbell to allow for the additional wiggle room. His House Bill 2536 was amended today in the House Ways and Means Committee to remove the tax hike entirely.

The amended bill passed 7-3.

But the sponsor has scored a win of sorts on his bill so far.

Campbell’s second goal, one far more palatable to his Republican colleagues, will continue in the legislative process: making alternative fuel users pay what he says is their fair share for using Arizona’s roadways.

Rep. Ben Toma, R-Peoria, amended the bill to focus on bringing electric vehicles, hybrids and vehicles using alternative fuels into parity.

Toma’s amendment would tax natural gas at 12 cents per gallon, propane at 14 cents per gallon and diesel at 26 cents per gallon. Additionally, electric vehicles would be taxed $83 per year and hybrids $33 per year; Campbell had originally proposed to set those costs at $130 and $52 respectively in the first year and $198 and $80 by FY 2022.

Campbell told the committee he has taken a lot of flak for the proposal, especially having made it just a year after the Legislature adopted a highway safety fee that was $14 more than promised. But he insisted the tax increase and additional taxes he championed were needed to meet the state’s essential infrastructure needs.

And Toma’s amendment did not go far enough to do that, he said.

Campbell has previously told the Arizona Capitol Times that lawmakers are ducking for cover on taxes.

“I can’t get any Republicans to want to push this bill forward,” he said earlier this month. “They don’t want to take a tough vote on something that’s so important to Arizona. That’s my feeling.”