Ravell Call, Deseret News
Traffic moves on I-15 in Salt Lake County during rush hour, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers passed competing proposals to raise Utah's gas tax Monday.
Utah drivers would pay an extra nickel per gallon in gas tax starting this summer under a bill the Senate approved.
In addition, SB160, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, would raise the tax 1 cent each year over the next four years, bringing the total tax on a gallon of gas to 33.5 cents. The state hasn't increased the 24.5-cent-per-gallon tax since 1997.
The House also passed its version of a gas tax increase Monday, HB362.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, would change the state's per-gallon tax to a complicated formula similar to a sales tax, but is not anticipated to actually increase prices at the pump until around 2025. The bill, which now heads to the Senate, does allow local governments to ask voters to raise sales taxes for roads.
Anderson told the House GOP caucus earlier Monday that the intent was to send a revenue-neutral bill to the Senate, where it would be adjusted so the new formula would increase fuel taxes by 5 cents beginning July 1. House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, has said repeatedly that the current per-gallon tax is a "dinosaur" that must be fixed so taxes will go up as gas prices increase.
Despite their disagreement over how to do it, the House and Senate agree that the state needs to bring in more money to repair crumbling roads and bridges. The state is facing a $11.3 billion gap in transportation funding over the next 25 years.
Lawmakers last week said they believed they had a compromise worked out between the two approaches, but that has yet to materialize.
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