Thursday, March 13, 2003
House OKs 5.4 Cent Increase in Gasoline Tax for Road Work
By Barry Massey
The Associated Press
SANTA FE The state tax on gasoline would increase by 5.4 cents a gallon to finance $561 million in road projects under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday.
Rep. Dan Silva, D-Albuquerque, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, conceded the tax could raise fuel costs but said crude oil prices had a far greater influence over retail gasoline prices. He pointed out that New Mexico had reduced its gas tax in 1995 yet gas prices have risen recently to nearly $2 a gallon.
House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said the proposed tax increase would cost $40 a year for a motorist driving 20,000 miles with a vehicle averaging 25 miles per gallon.
Currently, the tax is 17 cents a gallon for gasoline.
Under the bill, the tax would increase by 5.4 cents a gallon. The tax on diesel fuel would increase by 4.4 cents a gallon.
In addition, the legislation would stop a scheduled 1-cent-a-gallon reduction in the gasoline tax scheduled for July.
The House previously approved a separate measure to keep that 1 cent levy in place. A 1995 law repealed a 6-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax increase enacted in 1993, but 1 cent was pledged to road construction bonds and won't be eliminated until the bonds are repaid in July.
The bill passed 36-23 and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
These are the highway construction projects that would be financed by the proposed gasoline tax increase:
U.S. 666 from Tohatchi to Shiprock, making it a four-lane road. The bill provides $95 million, which would be in addition to $45 million authorized previously.
U.S. 54, making a four-lane divided highway from Tularosa to Santa Rosa; $167 million.
Interstate 40 and Coors Boulevard interchange reconstruction in Albuquerque; $50 million.
U.S. 62/180 from the Texas state line to Carlsbad, widening it to four lanes; $51 million.
I-25, widening it to six lanes from the Tramway interchange in Albuquerque to the U.S. 550 interchange in Bernalillo; $32 million.
I-25, widening it to six lanes from the N.M. 47 exit to Cesar Chávez Boulevard in Albuquerque; $33.2 million.
Isleta Boulevard in Albuquerque, improve the road and provide rights of way; $7.5 million.
Sunland Park extension improvements near Santa Teresa, $12.7 million.
I-40 interchange at Acoma Pueblo, design and reconstruction, $7 million. The pueblo must make an equal contribution.
I-40 reconstruction west of Gallup from mile post 12 to mile post 16; $12 million.
U.S.85/285 improvements between Pojoaque and Española, $25 million.
Coors Boulevard and N.M. 45 improvements in Albuquerque, from Rio Bravo Boulevard and the intersection with Arenal.
I-40 in Tijeras Canyon east of Albuquerque, reconstruction of a heavily traveled corridor; $16 million.
University Boulevard extension to Mesa del Sol in southern Albuquerque, improvements on Rio Bravo Boulevard between University and I-25, and improvements to the I-25 and Rio Bravo interchange; $6 million.
U.S. 285 improvements from Clines Corner to Lamy; $40 million.