By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Proposals that would have increased the tax on motor fuels to increase the rate of highway construction and maintenance died Wednesday.
A bill to allow municipalities to impose an additional sales tax – if approved by voters – also died. The state Municipal League has advocated for the tax option for years to deal with infrastructure needs.
Wednesday was the deadline for original floor action on revenue and appropriations bills in the chamber where they were filed. A bill can be passed today if it was considered by Wednesday, but since the motor fuel tax increase never made it out of committee it was never taken up by the full House or Senate.
Some argue a tax increase on motor fuel tax is needed because the revenue generated from the 18.8-cent tax, which provides nearly all of state funds for road construction, has not kept up with the soaring cost of road construction.
Construction costs have more than tripled while, at the same time, the revenue generated from the tax on a gallon of motor fuel has increased more modestly. In 1989, that tax generated $219 million annually compared to $288 million today.
At one point, House Transportation Committee Chair Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, proposed a statewide referendum on the issue. But at this point the only legislation alive is a proposal to form a commission to study the issue.
“We are going to take it one step at a time,” Johnson said Wednesday.