Haslam supports giving cities power to hike local gas taxes

Friday, March 11, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 11

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that he supports giving cities and counties the power to levy their own gas taxes to help pay for transportation needs.

The governor has been making his case for increasing the state's gas tax for the first time since 1989 as a way to help cover a $6 billion backlog in transportation project funding.

"Roads cost three times as much to build as the last time we passed a road plan, and yet your car gets twice as good mileage as it used to," Haslam said. "That won't work."

But lawmakers have been reluctant to take up the measure in an election year, and the governor has acknowledged that a gas tax is unlikely to be considered this year.

Given that impasse, Haslam was asked at a Tennessee Municipal League conference whether he would support allowing local governments to raise their own transportation money from a gas tax increase.

"Would I be in favor of some sort of local option? I would," Haslam said. "You all realize the danger in that is that if you're at X-cents per gallon, and the next county and next municipality is not, then it's easy to chase business away.

"But that's the stuff that I figure locals know," he said. "They have the ability to weigh the impact on themselves."