A bill that would eventually raise Wyoming's fuel tax by 15 cents per gallon will be considered by Wyoming lawmakers early next year.

You can read a draft of the proposal here.

The proposal was approved by the legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee this week on a 9-2 vote.

The bill would increase the state gas tax by five cents per gallon over each of the next few years, culminating in a final increase on July 1, 2024. The bill would raise the fuel tax from the current 24 cents per gallon to 39 cents per gallon.

The money raised would go towards highway construction, repair, and maintenance. Other Wyoming Department of Transportation operations would be barred from using revenues raised by the tax. Wyoming has not increased fuel taxes since 2013, and such proposals tend to generate strong opposition in a state where driving relatively long distances for work, shopping, health care,  and recreation is a common occurrence for many residents.

But supporters argue that something must be done to generate revenues for road repair and that state highways are threatened with falling into a state of disrepair. WYDOT officials say they are facing a yearly budget shortfall of $245 million per year.

When a dime fuel tax increase was approved by lawmakers in 2013, supporters were able to overcome significant public opposition by rallying support from local elected officials, chambers of commerce, and other groups.

But regular attempts to increase the tax since then have fallen short in the face of often vehement public opposition, and whether such a measure can pass at a time when gasoline prices have already increased significantly remains to be seen.

Wyoming's current fuel tax of 24 cents per gallon is lower than every surrounding state except Colorado, which currently has a 22 cent per gallon tax.

 

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