Georgia's House of Representatives approved legislation that would raise about $1 billion for transportation infrastructure by altering and increasing motor fuel taxes, levying annual user fees on alternative-fuel vehicles and repealing tax breaks for aviation fuel and low emission vehicles.
The measure now goes to the state Senate, where it is expected to see changes.
The "Transportation Funding Act of 2015," which was sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts, would convert a current percentage sales tax on motor fuel to a fixed 29.2 cents a gallon excise tax.
A Roberts announcement said that excise tax level "approximates the sales tax rate which has been imposed on gasoline using a weighted average of the price of gasoline over the previous four years." The measure would also require that excise tax to be adjusted each year based on changes in average vehicle fuel efficiency and highway construction costs.
While the legislative debate has mainly been about raising the revenue needed to maintain highways and bridges, the bill defines its "transportation purposes" as roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports and related access facilities and services.
It would repeal a tax credit given to commercial airlines for jet fuel and as of July 1 would drop to zero a tax credit for low emission or zero emission vehicles that is now worth $5,000 apiece.
Under the plan, non-commercial vehicles powered by electricity, propane or natural gas would be assessed a $200 annual user fee, while commercial alternative-fuel vehicles would be charged $300 a year.
That is part of a growing trend of states looking for ways to have all direct highway users pay for the infrastructure, and capture users who escape the normal fees at the pump on gasoline and diesel fuel.
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