A massive gas tax increase that was part of the Haslam Administration’s IMPROVE Act, which raised fuel taxes over $300 million a year, is becoming an issue in the 6th District Republican Primary congressional race. Former judge and conservative businessman Bob Corlew is hitting fellow Republican contender John Rose for supporting the huge tax increase in a new digital ad that may soon find its way to broadcast and cable outlets in the district.
According to a Corlew campaign spokesman, the ad was rejected by “Gas Station Television” because, as a representative at Gas Station Television told the campaign, “they didn’t want to run anything that would shine ‘a negative light on the gas space (or oil industry).’ So this ad never got to run on their air.”
A transcript of the ad:
“HEY! HEY YOU PUMPING GAS! DO YOU THINK YOU PAY TOO MUCH AT THE PUMP? WELL, IF JOHN ROSE HAD HIS WAY YOU WOULD BE PAYING MORE EVERY TIME EVERY TIME YOU FILL UP. THAT’S RIGHT, JOHN ROSE SUPPORTED INCREASING FUEL TAXES BY 33%. JOHN ROSE SAID YOU PAYING MORE EVERY TIME YOU PUMP GAS ‘MAKES GOOD SENSE’. AND ‘I HOPE THIS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED.’ JOHN ROSE: WRONG ON FUEL TAXES, WRONG FOR TENNESSEE”
At the time the legislature passed the tax increase, Andrew Ogles, then director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee said: “Raising the gas tax is hurting the people who need the tax relief the most.” Ogles acknowledged that funding issues will have to be addressed, but said state government “needs to tighten its belt and look for ways to save before looking for ways to spend.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, June 14, 2015]
A new Tennessee Star statewide poll of 1,040 likely Republican Primary voters conducted by Triton Polling from June 25-28, 2018 indicates that voters are not supportive of the fuel tax increase.
The poll asked: “Last year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill, signed into law by Gov. Haslam, to increase the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 10 cents per gallon, to fund road construction. Do you support this gas tax increase?”
35.4 percent of likely GOP primary voters support the tax increase while 51.3 percent oppose the increase. 13.3 percent were not sure of had no opinion.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill has said the issue of the fuel tax increase is a great opportunity for those running against legislators who voted for it and those who supported it.
“Gas prices have risen dramatically, Republican primary voters generally oppose tax increases — particularly when they are seen as unnecessary, and drivers who are having their teeth jarred by potholes and are still stuck in traffic jams are seeing no benefit from the tax increase,” Gill noted.