Tennessee Star Poll: As Gas Prices Rise So Does Opposition to Tennessee Fuel Tax Increase

Aaron Shane anti-Susan Lynn gas tax

Gasoline prices across Tennessee continue to nudge towards $3 a gallon. As those prices rise Tennessee voter opposition to the fuel tax increase included in the IMPROVE Act is increasing as well. Despite the state having two billion dollars in surplus and recurring revenues, Governor Bill Haslam and Republican legislative leadership jammed through a $330 million a year fuel tax increase last year, which is phased in over three years.  The latest phased increase went into effect on July 1.

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.

A year ago, the Tennessee Star Poll conducted at that time indicated that 48.1 percent of Republican primary voters were more likely to support a candidate for Governor who supported repeal of the fuel tax increase while 29.8 percent were less likely to support a candidate advocating repeal.

Currently, with less media attention on the issue and few candidates focused on promoting a repeal the number of undecided voters has increased. Nevertheless, 35.5 percent of GOP likely primary voters are more likely to support a candidate who supports repeal while only 23 percent are less likely. 41 percent indicated that they are not sure or don’t know.

anti-Susan Lynn, anti-gas tax increaseTennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill says the issue of the fuel tax increase is a great opportunity for those running against legislators who voted for 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. “Some candidates, like Aaron Shane who is running against State Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), are making her vote for the tax increase, after saying she wouldn’t, a focal point of his campaign.”  Shane has a website devoted to the issue.

Gill adds that expects other candidates to amplify the issue over the next few weeks as well. “Incumbents who supported raising the tax are vulnerable, but time is running out for their opponents to capitalize on it.”

Other Republican state legislators who supported the IMPROVE Act who now face significant opposition in the August 2 Republican primary include State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma), who became the public face of the IMPROVE Act when he rammed it through the House Transportation Committee he chairs by breaking the rules of the Tennessee House of Representatives, and State Rep. Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), who promised constituents he would vote against any gas tax increase, then changed his mind and voted for the increase.

Tillis was last seen in May at the Capitol Hill Sheraton in Nashville accepting a campaign contribution from appreciative lobbyists.

It wasn’t an entirely welcome experience for the first term state legislator, who was reminded by Gas Can Man outside the hotel of his broken promise.

Tillis faces a tough primary challenge from former State Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg).

As for Doss, he was seen in October, sitting in the audience and cheering as disgraced former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry introduced her $9 billion transit tax plan for consideration in a local referendum that was legally authorized under the IMPROVE Act championed by Doss.

Voters in Nashville/Davidson County were not quite as enthusiastic about the Doss enabled boondoggle, resoundingly rejecting it by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin on May 1.

Doss faces a primary challenge from political newcomer Clay Dogget, who has made Doss’s support for the IMPROVE Act and his opposition to the Act a central theme of his campaign, as The Tennessee Star reported when he announced his candidacy.

You can read The Tennessee Star Poll questions on the gas tax at question 10 and question 11 on page 3 of the top line summary of the poll, here below:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://tennesseestar.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/180629-Triton-Jun-2018-TN-Star-GOP-Primary-Survey-Topline-Results.pdf” title=”180629 Triton – Jun 2018 TN Star GOP Primary Survey – Topline Results”]








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6 Thoughts to “Tennessee Star Poll: As Gas Prices Rise So Does Opposition to Tennessee Fuel Tax Increase”

  1. […] 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?” […]

  2. Susan E Gingrich

    Unneeded tax increases have consequences as does voter apathy!

  3. Kevin

    So far in 2018 the State of Tennessee continues to take in millions more dollars per month than originally planned and budgeted for! And Representative Lynn continues to prance around trying to tell us that the gas tax increase was the largest tax cut in Tennessee history. She is so full of it, her eyes are brown!

    Yesterday you published the list of who voted for the Improve Act, and who didn’t. I advise all voters to study that list and vote against anybody who voted for the IMPROVE Act! Also on that list is the vote status of Glen Cassida, who wants to be the next Speaker of the House. I highly recommend that you contact your House Reps and tell them that you do not support some one who doesn’t have the backbone to go on the record and vote for or against such an important Bill. We don’t need a John Boehner/Paul Ryan like Speaker in Tennessee!

    And by the way, isn’t it “interesting” that the vote for the Speaker of the House is NOT a public vote? Again, this is so we voters can’t truly judge the behavior of our elected reps!

  4. 83ragtop50

    The fuel taxes were too much but adding the option for local governments to vote in additional taxes was way over the top. Obviously a way of buying votes from those representing liberals from bigger cities such as Nashville. It is time to repeal the law in its entirety. Unfortunately “my” senator voted for it. I do not plan to vote for him again. His record implies that he is a RHINO-lite. I want a real conservative representing me.

  5. ron stone

    Initially wasn’t the tax on fuel to be used only for roads? If so, when did it change. Or am I mistaken.

    1. Randy Davidson

      It is. All tax revenue from the fuel tax goes only to the road fund.