A new poll released on Tuesday shows that registered Republican voters in Tennessee oppose raising the gas tax by a 53 percent to 28 percent, almost a 2 to 1 margin.
Gov. Haslam has proposed increasing the gas tax by 7 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 18 cents per gallon in order to fund additional road expenditures.
The poll was conducted of 600 registered Republican voters over two days, January 31 to February 1, in the immediate aftermath of Haslam’s January 30 State of the State address in which he released details of his proposed gas tax, which are included in a bill called the IMPROVE Act.
Tennesseans for Conservative Action , which sponsored the poll, said in its press release announcing the results it “conducted the survey to gauge support for policies conservatives are talking about during this year’s legislative session.”
TCA outlined several “key takeaways” in its release:
54% of Republicans believe we should spend the $1 billion surplus on road improvements before raising the gas tax.
Of those who support the gas tax, 99% approve of Governor Haslam’s job performance.
15% of Tennessee Republicans flatly reject a 7-cent gas tax “no matter what” and a majority of those who are anti-gas tax increase Republicans also disapprove of Governor Haslam’s job performance.
Tennessee Republicans favor an increase to the gas tax over tolls (37% to 21%).
80% of those who are unsure about the 7-cent gas tax approve of Governor Haslam’s job performance.
3 out of 4 Republicans who favored the 7-cent gas tax increase did so because the revenue would make Tennessee’s roads safer.
TCA also provided a “Topline Summary” of responses to several questions about the gas tax proposal and other issues before the Tennessee General Assembly this session:
1) Gas Tax Question: Governor Haslam has proposed a tax increase of 7 cents on each gallon of gasoline. Which of the following most closely matches your current feelings on the proposed bill?
21%: Support the gas tax increase to fund road improvements to ensure TN’s roads will be safer
7%: Support the gas tax increase to fund road improvements to ease traffic in my community
53% We should spend the $1 billion surplus before raising taxes
15% I oppose the gas tax no matter what
2) Surplus Question: Tennessee has a surplus of almost one billion dollars this year. Of the following, how do you want the legislature to use that money?<
28%: Invest in infrastructure
19%: Cut the sales tax on food
12%: Invest in education and provide teacher raises
9%: Put away for “Rainy Day Fund” for future
30%: A combination of the proposed options
3) Rural Broadband Question: Bill to give more rural Tennesseans access to reliable broadband services through state tax breaks or grants
22% need more info
4) Medical Cannabis: Bill to legalize medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, to give Tennesseans the freedom to choose the way they manage their pain
13% need more info
5) AirBNB: Bill to encourage entrepreneurship by lifting local restrictions on home sharing companies like AirBNB
44% need more info
TCA did not provide information on the name of the firm it hired to conduct the poll, its methodology (live questioners versus automated questions), what percentage of respondents were contacted by land line phone, cell phone, or via internet, the demographics of respondents, or crosstabs that provide breakdowns of responses to specific questions by demographic characteristics.
Mark Braden is President of TCA, and Gregory Gleaves is a board member, according to the group’s website.