Don’t lower taxes

Don’t lower taxes

Gasoline levies build roads

Although there are some ideas emanating from other states that Mississippi would be wise to copy, this isn’t one of them: cutting the state fuel tax.

According to news reports, a handful of states have been looking at reducing or suspending gasoline taxes as a way to help motorists cope with the rising cost of fuel.

It is a bad idea in general, but particularly in Mississippi where the state tax on gasoline is already significantly less than the national average.

Mississippi tacks on 18.8 cents in state taxes on a gallon of gasoline, an amount that’s just barely more than what the federal government adds in taxes. The national average in state gasoline taxes is 28.1 cents, almost 50 percent higher than Mississippi’s.

Gas taxes, in this state and elsewhere, are commonly earmarked for road and bridge construction and maintenance.

Those earmarks, though, have been ignored in recent years by the Mississippi Legislature, which has dipped into highway funds in order to plug holes elsewhere in the state’s budget. As a result, construction projects have been slowed, and maintenance of existing highways has been allowed to slip years behind.

Besides, lowering the price of gas through tax cuts is a knee-jerk reaction that sends the wrong message to consumers of fuel. They force Americans to rethink their wasteful ways when it comes to oil consumption. They also encourage research into alternative energy sources.

To cut any tax on gas – state or federal – would only encourage motorists to forget why they should be cutting back on consumption.

Greenwood Commonwealth