A six-cent increase in the state gas tax is on the verge of passing.
State lawmakers have advanced to final round LB 610, a bill that would increase the state gas tax by six cents over four years, on a 27-14 vote. If that vote holds on final round, it wouldn’t be enough to overcome a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has voiced his opposition to the tax hike.
If approved and fully incorporated, the state gas tax would generate approximately $76 million annually to pay for road and bridge repair.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion told colleagues his bill will help fix badly deteriorating roads and bridges.
“This is a small, modest, reasonable increase in a user fee to meet the needs for our infrastructure in this state,” Smith said during legislative floor debate.
Some senators, though, objected to voting to increase the gas tax without approving sizeable property tax relief.
Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft questioned how the increase will accomplish its stated goal.
“We don’t have a plan. Let’s be clear. What is the plan? Who will start getting their bridge first?” Brasch asked.
The majority of legislators, though, say too many bridges have been rated deficient and road repair has fallen badly behind. They frame the increase as an increase in the user fee and point out the neighboring states of Iowa and South Dakota have taken advantage of the recent drop in gas prices to hike their gas taxes.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]