By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, January 22, State Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) said on Facebook that it is time to make some decisions about the future of our transportation infrastructure. The powerful Chairman of the House Rules Committee claimed that we need 12 cents additional state taxes on every gallon of fuel to spend on road projects.
McCutcheon said, “There will be a meeting concerning Transportation Issues on Feb. 1st, 10am til Noon, at Calhoun College Campus. The meeting will be in the Lecture Hall of the Aerospace Training Center. The Joint Transportation Committee members are attend the meetings which are sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce organizations. There are Five Regional Meetings and we have had two so far. All of the meetings have been during the day from 10am until noon and the attendance has been overwhelming. Local businesses, individuals, local elected officials and Legislators have been in attendance.”
Rep. McCutcheon continued, “The meetings are designed to give facts and issues concerning transportation needs in each region. In order for the Legislator’s to make a decision on how to fund our needs we must hear the facts. I am receiving emails and phone calls from people and I am saving each concern. The Local Elected Officials are receiving comments and they are also speaking to the concerns as well. We have not written a bill as of today but I am beginning to formulate the concerns and putting ideas together. Transportation funding on a State wide level has not been addressed since 1992.”
McCutcheon said, “It is time to address it. We must invest in our roads! I realize there are some that will object but most individuals ask the question why have we waited so long to address this? One of the reasons is, this is not an easy decision for a politician to make. Voting on revenue is difficult but the time has come to make some decisions about the future of our Transportation Infrastructure. Many of you know that since being elected in 2006 I have made transportation issues my priority. We have made progress, but if I sit back and not address this issue now then years from now when I am out of office I will regret the fact that I saw a problem and did not try to fix it! Educate yourself on this issue and email me or your Legislator your concerns. Please email me rather than have a debate on FB.”
McCutcheon said, “We need about 12 cents additional per gallon to adjust for inflation and construction cost. We are still looking at gradual increases per year based on the overall cost of a gallon of gas. Still working on options.”
Rep. McCutcheon proposed raising the taxes that Alabamians pay on gas and diesel during the last special session; but that proposal never got out of committee. Pro-tax increase Republican legislators are holding these public hearings around the state so that the roads issue can be brought up outside of the normal Montgomery arena.
Conservatives accuse establishment legislators of packing the meetings with their special interest buddys.
Alabama Legislative Watchdogs’ Director Ann Eubank told the Alabama Political Reporter: “They are setting up the narrative for infrastructure needs in front of asking for a gasoline tax increase. We the people are not stupid, it’s politics as usual. “Create a problem, then tax the people to solve the created problem.” With all of the cronyism in the DOT, any increased tax revenue will not be spent where it is needed most. So, why should the taxpayer be for such increase? What’s going to happen when gas prices go back up?”
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.