Gov. Pete Ricketts isn’t on board with a proposed increase in the state gas tax.
“Well, as I travel across the state, Nebraskans tell me we need tax relief, not tax increases,” Ricketts tells Jack and Dave in the Morning on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Ricketts says he plans to hire a new director of roads who will examine how the state spends money on roads and bridges and even the regulations it imposes on cities and counties.
“I want to exhaust all those opportunities first, before we start running to raise taxes,” Ricketts says. “I don’t want to dismiss the concerns that the proponents of this bill have with regard to what do we do about our county bridges. But, we need to work on, what are we doing with the resources we have today?”
State lawmakers have given preliminary approval to LB 610, which would raise the state gas tax by six cents a gallon over a four-year period. If approved, the new gas tax rate of 31.6 cents a gallon would generate $76 million annually.
Ricketts says the legislature needs to wait and see what impact a change in the law approved only a few years ago has before raising the gas tax. The Unicameral approved a bill sponsored by then-state Sen. Deb Fischer to divert a quarter of a cent of the sales tax to road and bridge construction, bringing in an estimated $60-70 million annually.
Ricketts adds he wants to see what a new director might do at the Nebraska Department of Roads. Ricketts says the new director will examine the roads and bridges budget as well as the regulations the state imposes on cities and counties.
“We’re not the only state facing these (problems). Other states have and they’ve found other ways to address them. That’s why we’re going to bring some people in with new ideas to figures out how we can address the problems we have here in our state,” according to Ricketts. “That’s the way we can do it and be respectful to taxpayers by not running to raise the gas tax.”