Will the gas tax go strictly toward infrastructure?

Here’s what state leaders put in the law that they say will make sure the money is only for roads, bridges, and the Port of Mobile.

Will the gas tax go strictly toward infrastructure?
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill that will raise the state's fuel taxes by 10 cents over the next three years. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There have been a slew of social media posts in response to the Rebuild Alabama Act signed into law Tuesday. The Act includes a 10-cent gas tax increase, with all of the money supposed to go toward roads and bridges.

Why did state leaders say they want a gas tax increase?

The fuel tax has not been increased since 1992, and state leaders said it was time to put more money toward infrastructure.

“Today, March 12, 2019 is a historic day for the great state of Alabama,” Ivey said to applause in opening remarks to media waiting in the Old House Chamber. “What the members of the Alabama Legislature have done today is to improve Alabama’s infrastructure for generations to come.”

How much more money will I pay at the pump?

The current state gas tax is 18 cents and that would increase to 28 cents over the next three years. You will pay six cents more per gallon starting Sept. 1, 2019. Then it would increase by two cents in 2020 and another two cents 2021.

Beginning in 2023, the tax would be tied to the National Highway Construction Cost Index, and would increase or decrease the tax no more than one cent automatically every two years. Leaders say this index will help keep up with the construction costs to build highways.

Rep. Bill Poole, the sponsor of the Rebuild Alabama Act, said the tax would generate an additional $320 million annually. About 67 percent of the tax would go toward ALDOT. Twenty-five percent will go to the counties, and of that money 45 percent of it will be distributed between all counties, and the rest distributed based on population.

Around eight percent of the total pot of money will be distributed to municipalities. Of that pile, 25 percent of it distributed equally to all municipalities, and the rest distributed to municipalities based on total population.

How will the state make sure the money goes toward roads and bridges?

Gov. Kay Ivey said several times this money would be “scrutinized.” Here is what leaders put in the law that they say will ensure this money is only for asphalt and concrete.

“Every penny that is raised through this new resource will be scrutinized, will be accounted for infrastructure-only, period," Ivey said.

Currently, the state has Joint Transportation Committee. Leaders say the new Rebuild Alabama Act strengthens the powers of the committee to review how ALDOT spends its money. The committee is made up of 12 members of the Senate and 12 members of the House of Representatives. It will meet at least four times each year to make sure the money is spent wisely.

ALDOT will provide the committee reports with how it plans to spend its money each year. Members on the committee will have chances before that to give their input. ALDOT will also present their long-term plan to the committee each year.

ALDOT will also use an “objective prioritization criteria” to decide which projects they tackle. Here is some of the criteria:

  • Commuter benefits in the total amount of direct savings to working people traveling
  • Transportation safety
  • Recreation and tourism
  • Implications on the routing of school buses
  • Priority to projects which provide a county with its first four-lane access to an interstate

The committee will review how ALDOT determined which projects to tackle.

Cities and counties will report to the committee how much money they receive from the tax each year and how much they spent on road and bridge maintenance.

What about those who drive electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles?

Electric and hybrid vehicles will also be taxed under the new law. It will cost $200 for electric vehicles and $100 for hybrid vehicles. Part of the electric vehicle fee will go into a grant program to create electric charging stations.

Once electric vehicles make up four percent of Alabama vehicles, the cost will decrease to $150 for electric vehicles and $75 for hybrid vehicles.

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