By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, January 7, the Alabama Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee held the first of five regional meetings in Northport to gather information on Alabama’s infrastructure needs in order to maintain safe, quality roads, and bridges.
Business Council of Alabama (BCA) President and CEO William J. Canary said in a statement, “The meetings will help guide the future of Alabama’s arteries of transportation that move our lifeblood of commerce, business, and manufacturing to markets both within and without Alabama… Timed perfectly before the February start of the 2016 regular legislative session, the meetings offer the public, local officials, business leaders, and their employees to opportunity to provide input and learn about Alabama’s important surface transportation system.”
State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) said in a statement, “Great crowd at public hearing in Northport today concerning infrastructure needs in West Alabama; joined by Sen. Allen, Rep. McCutcheon and other house members from the area 4 other hearing scheduled soon….”
Road contractors and other special interests which make their money by building and maintaining Alabama’s roads are pushing for a massive increase in the amount of taxes Alabamians spend on fuel in order to fund more road projects.
On Thursday, January 7, State Senator Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) told the Republican Women of Trussville, “there is a big push for more gas taxes for roads, I can’t see me voting for higher gas taxes.
State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said, “Some in our government are calling for a tax increase on gasoline. I have the honor to represent the fine folks of HD 30 and as your representative I request your feedback. Is this something you would like to happen? The claim is the monies would be used to improve our roads and bridges.”
Sammy Watson with DCH Health System testified to the Committee that lives are stake when emergency vehicles are blocked by ineffective roads.
The meetings are scheduled as follows with all meetings beginning at 10:00 a.m. and concluding at noon:
BCA Chair Carl Jamison told the committee that roads investment benefits public safety, job creation and quality of life.
On Wednesday, January 6, State Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) announced that he is against this tax increase. Representative Williams wrote, “There is a great stirring in Alabama as many politicians and organizations that depend upon state government are gearing up for a tax increase push in 2016. This particular tax increase is on gasoline.” “I am AGAINST this tax increase.”
The meetings are scheduled to beginning at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at noon. The next meetings are January 19 in Hoover, Jan. 21 in Huntsville, Jan. 26 in Mobile, and Jan. 28 in Dothan.
Alabama motorists currently pay 16 cents per gallon to the state of Alabama. The federal government collects another 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. County and municipal governments also levee their own taxes on fuels. According to gaspricewatch.com Alabama averages 39.3 cents of taxes per gallon of gas and 46.3 cents in taxes on every gallon of diesel bought for over the road use. The proposed 12 cents a gallon state tax increase would raise that to 51.3 cents on gasoline and 58.3 cents on diesel.