Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Gas tax
Clay Robison in the Chron:
House Speaker Tom Craddick said Tuesday that he wants to squeeze more money out of the state gasoline tax by allowing the tax rate, now set at 20 cents per gallon, to rise in step with some type of inflation index.

The tax, last increased in 1991, is a major revenue-raiser for highways and the public schools, but the state hasn't cashed in on the high gasoline prices of recent years because tax revenue — which is based on quantity, not price — has been relatively flat.

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst indicated they were open to the idea.

"We haven't increased our gas tax in years," Dewhurst said. "We've got continuing challenges to put more money into our highways. We'll take a look at it over here in the Senate."

Spokeswoman Kathy Walt said Perry believes the proposal is an "interesting concept that ... the Legislature ought to explore."

[Side note: it's rather odd to include the italicized phrases, when the article doesn't mention anything about the state trying to profit from rising gas prices.]

We'll see how politically palatable any raise in the gas tax is. Indexing the gas tax to inflation may or may not be good public policy (I reserve comment, though I note that capital gains are NOT indexed to inflation, which is presumably much more distortionary), but any hikes in the gas tax are tough sells politically.

Perry had his spokeswoman issue a tepid ok, but I'm sure he's treading gingerly.

It's certainly a potential campaign issue for KBH or Strayhorn. They can criticize Perry from the right (raising taxes) and from the left (the gas tax is presumably regressive).

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