An Arizona lawmaker is calling for a ballot question asking voters to approve a 10-cent hike in the state government’s gasoline tax.
State Rep. Noel Campbell (R-Prescott) told reporters in January he plans to propose placing a question on the state’s November 2018 ballot, asking voters to approve increasing the state’s gas tax from 18 cents per gallon to 28 cents per gallon, a 56 percent increase.
If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, Campbell’s proposal would be the state’s first gas tax increase in 16 years.
Risking Economic Appeal
Victor Riches, president and chief operating officer of the Goldwater Institute, says hiking the gas tax would cut into Arizona’s already small tax advantage it has over other states.
“The biggest problem with increasing the gas tax or any other tax in Arizona is that it would put our state at an economic disadvantage compared to the rest of the country,” Riches said. “Arizona currently ranks 27th out of the 50 states in terms of overall tax burden, meaning we’re barely outside of the highest-taxed half of the country.”
Soaking the Poor
Riches says the burden of Campbell’s tax hike would fall disproportionately on low-income and middle-income people in the state.
“Middle and lower-income families would be hurt the most,” Riches said. “At a time when wages are still relatively flat for those demographics, a tax increase of nearly $300 million would be extremely detrimental to those families.”
Punishing Fuel Efficiency
Tom Jenney, director of Americans for Prosperity-Arizona, says gas tax hikes effectively punish consumers for buying more-fuel-efficient automobiles.
“Technological improvements, which have been driven partly by federal mandates, have led to the production of more-fuel-efficient vehicles,” Jenney said. “Consumers should be rewarded, not punished, for buying more-fuel-efficient vehicles.”