House Transportation Chair Favors Gas Tax Increase; Opposes Haslam’s Proposal to Index for Annual Inflation

State Rep Barry Doss

State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told his fellow panelists and studio audience at the WWTN Gas Tax Town Hall on Thursday that he favors Gov. Haslam’s 7 cents per gallon gas tax increase, but opposes the part of governor’s proposal that would index the tax for future annual increases tied to the consumer price index.

“There are those of us up here who disagree with indexing. That’s putting a perpetual tax increase on the people,” Doss said.

“If we get rid of indexing and we lower taxes above and beyond what the Governor has proposed, guys, we hope to be able to leave this session in the end of April this year saying we did not raise taxes.”

Andy Ogles, executive director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee, which opposes both the proposed 7 cents per gallon gas tax increase and the Governor’s proposed indexing, explained the simple math of what he called a very bad idea.

If the General Assembly had approved indexing in 1989, when the gas tax was increased to 20 cents per gallon, it would today be a whopping 41 cents per gallon, Ogles said. ( A 1.4 cent per gallon special surcharge, which remains, was subsequently added.)

Governor Haslam has proposed increasing the gas tax from 21 cents per gallon to 28 cents per gallon.

Earlier in the town hall, State Rep. Doss told audience member Caleb, an owner-operator of three trucks based in Smyrna, that he is “concerned about a gas tax increase.”

I have 46 employees and a fleet of 46 trucks, from dump trucks down to pickups.

So I’m very concerned about a gas tax increase. But I’ve told Dave [Smith, Gov. Haslam’s representative on the panel] and the governor as recently as two hours ago, I think we’ve made a huge mistake when we started this discussion and we named this the gas tax,” Doss said.

What we should have named this is, we should have took the name that the governor has given it, IMPROVE Act, act meaning reallocation of the citizens taxation. And somehow we’re all losing the fact that we are conservatives. We don’t raise taxes.

What we’re doing here is reallocating what taxes we have.

Doss was named chairman of the House Transportation Committee in January.

“Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, who replaces Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, as chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Matlock unsuccessfully challenged Harwell as House speaker last month in House Republican Caucus voting. (He no longer has a seat on the panel, which will be an early hurdle for Gov. Bill Haslam’s anticipated gas tax proposal.),” as Humphrey on the Hill reported.





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