Gas tax increase debated in Mississippi

By Ashley Porter - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Every time you fill up your gas tank, you're paying about 18 cents a gallon in state taxes. To build new roads and maintain existing ones, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is proposing an increase to that state tax.

When Garret McDaniel heard the state gas tax could go up, his first reaction was, "Another tax?"

"We're already getting taxed on everything else," McDaniel continued. "Everything's going up. I can barely afford to get enough gas to afford to drive."

The most widely discussed number so far is a five cent tax increase.

"We do need additional sums of money to continue to provide safe highways," said Larry L. "Butch" Brown, MDOT's executive director. "We have about an $8 billion backlog of infrastructure needs in the state of Mississippi."

The state's 18 cent gas tax is one of the lowest in the country, and it hasn't been changed since 1987. But state leaders, like Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, don't want to see the tax raised at all.

In a statement, Bryant said, "In these tough economic times, I am opposed to any further tax burden on the taxpayer."

But Brown said the burden is necessary.

"It's time for awareness," Brown said. "It's time to tell the story of the need for the system because we're going to wake up one day and have no money for new construction."

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