January 9, 2017-Representative Ed Soliday, R-4, has introduced a bill that would raise the gas tax every year. The move comes as Visclosky consultant Doug Farr Declares a “war on cars” and says the gas tax should be $2.00 per gallon. In a series of youtube videos, Farr, the lead consultant for the West Lake Extension Transit Oriented Development Plan, repeatedly states “I don’t mind if people want to drive, they should just be willing to pay for it.” Under the Soliday plan the gas tax would rise by ten cents immediately and then by as much as ten cents per year every year thereafter. According to the summary of House Bill 1002:
“Limits the one-time increase to $0.10 per gallon. Provides for an annual rate increase in fuel tax rates based on an annual index factor.” (See https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1002#document-484757c9 )
The actual amount of the fuel tax increase would be determined annually by the Indiana Department of Revenue. The increase would be based on the Consumer Price Index and the Indiana Price Index. The bill would also raise registration fees and, for the first time ever, institute a $150 per year fee on electric vehicles. The $150 per year fee would be adjusted for inflation every five years.
For his part, Farr has called for a 50% reduction in total vehicle miles travelled by the year 2030. In several videos he speaks of raising gas taxes and references $10-$12 per gallon gasoline in at least one speech. Under the Soliday tax plan, there would be no limit on the total amount the tax could rise, although the per year increase is limited to ten cents.
To make matters worse, senior citizens often complain that many cost of living adjustments in social security are based on a “chained cpi” which does not take into account the true cost of living. In this case, increases in the gasoline tax could far outstrip raises for seniors based on the differences in the indices. Increases in gas prices affect the costs of goods delivered by truck, including food.
Being connected to the CPI will cause the gas tax to rise the most when the economy is at its worst, possibly exacerbating recession in Indiana. In times of double digit inflation, Hoosiers would see double digit increases in the gasoline tax. Finally, Hoosiers will be forced to pay another 7% in sales tax on Soliday’s gasoline tax.
Soliday attempted to push the same tax last year and then Governor Mike Pence shot it down. At the time, Democrat leader Scott Pelath spoke out against the regressive gasoline tax, pointing out that Republicans had just lowered the tax rate for corporations. Pelath issued a much watered down statement this year saying “we will need to hear more about this impressive array of tax increases that are being discussed here. Merely calling them user fees will not remove the stigma that comes with asking people to pay more than they have in the past.” Apparently, there is no one standing up for our seniors and working poor.