Utah Legislature concluded its March 13 session by passing a bill that will raise the gas tax by five cents per gallon starting January 1 of 2016.
The Utah House of Representatives and Senate each had different ideas regarding the gas tax. Some were in favor of reforming gasoline taxes, while others were in favor of raising them. They agreed that a change was needed in order to make the $11.3 billion dollars needed as a “shortfall” if the state cannot make money through any other means.
This money is needed as part of Utah’s 2040 Unified Transportation plan, and compromised on March 13 in order to push this bill through. The plan, which can be found on wfrc.org, has specific goals to “protect the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote… efficient operations.”
The plan estimates the projects totaling $54.7 billion, when issues like potential population growth and ever-increasing traffic are factored in.
Currently, the tax is at 24.5 cents per gallon, a lower rate when compared with other states. Other states have additional fees that bring their 22.7 cent tax up to about 30 cents per gallon. Utah’s five cent increase is comparable to the rest of the United States.
According to Representative Johnny Anderson, the tax would not rise unless the price of gasoline reaches $2.45 a gallon or lower. Even so, if the price of gas were to go lower than that, the bill is designed so that the taxation would not go higher than 40 cents per gallon.
There is concern that the rise of alternatively fueled vehicles would persuade the legislature to raise registration fees in order to make up for the revenue lost because of independence from gasoline.