State polls show lack of support for gas tax hikes

State polls show lack of support for gas tax hikes
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A trio of state polls released this week show voters in states such as Georgia, New Jersey and Utah do not support an increase in their gas taxes to pay for new transportation projects. 

The surveys come as lawmakers in Washington are indicating a willingness to raise the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax for the first time in 20 years. 

In Georgia, where drivers pay an additional 7.5 cents per gallon on top of the federal gas tax, according to the America Petroleum Institute (API), 60 percent of voters said they are opposed to paying more at the pump to pay for new transportation projects in a poll conducted by Landmark Communications, according to a report from Atlanta’s WSB. 

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Similarly, 68 percent of New Jersey voters said they are opposed to a gas tax increase in that state, where drivers currently are paying an extra 10.5 cents per gallon to fill local transportation coffers, according to a Trenton Times report

Finally, in Utah, where drivers pay an extra 24.5 cents per gallon at the pump, only 35 percent of voters said they supported a gas tax increase, according to a report from Salt Lake City TV station KSL about a poll that was conducted by the Exoro Group. 

Lawmakers have expressed new hope for an infrastructure funding deal that supporters have said will likely require an increase in the federal gas tax. 

Transportation advocates have argued that increasing the gas tax is the most equitable way help close an infrastructure funding shortfall that is estimated to be about $16 billion annually. 

The idea has picked up some steam on Capitol Hill as gas prices have declined sharply in recent months, altogether some key Republican leaders, like Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio), have indicated that they are still John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE-opposes-gas-tax-hike#.VK68bpFAn94.twitter" target="_blank">opposed to asking drivers to pay more at the pump. 

The gas tax, which predates the development of the Interstate Highway System, has been the traditional source for transportation projects since its inception in the 1930s.

The tax, which has not been increased since 1993, brings in about $34 billion per year. The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on road and transit projects, and transportation advocates have maintained that the larger figure is only enough to maintain the current state of the U.S. infrastructure network. 

Major road and transit improvements will require a higher annual funding level, they argue, which would result in an even higher infrastructure budget without an infusion of cash from a source like the gas tax. 

The current transportation funding bill is scheduled to expire in May.