News / Utah / 

Coalition wants to increase transportation taxes and fees

By John Hollenhorst and Tom Callan | Posted - Jan. 23, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

A politically potent coalition is pushing to raise the cost of driving in Utah. They say an increase is necessary in gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees, but their proposal is already drawing fire.

Coalition wants to increase transportation taxes and fees

The state suspended 30 highway projects late last year because of budget shortfalls. Now, the coalition of transportation-related businesses, chambers of commerce and community leaders is pushing to get those projects moving again, especially in key areas.

"Northern Utah County is just a mess, as far as congestion goes, so we need to get that I-15 rebuilt in Utah County. So, there's a lot at stake here," said LaVarr Webb, with Utahns for Safe and Efficient Transportation.

Coalition wants to increase transportation taxes and fees

The coalition proposes so-called "user-fee" increases -- higher taxes really -- on gas and vehicle registration. "We do think that a user fee is appropriate. Those who use the highways ought to pay it; and even the big trucking companies that spend a lot on fuel, they're supportive of this. They recognize the need for mobility and a good transportation system," Webb said.

Most Utahns disagree, by a whopping margin of 70 percent to 29 percent, according to a poll for KSL-TV and the Deseret News.

The Utah Taxpayers Association also opposes it, unless there's a decrease in income taxes. "No net tax increases. People are already having a difficult time making their payments; and raising taxes, especially right now, just isn't the right solution," said Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Coalition wants to increase transportation taxes and fees

The Sierra Club opposes the hike too, because the extra money can only be spent on one thing. "In our Constitution, gas taxes can only be used for building more roads. And, of course, that causes more air pollution. And right now, we have the worst air in the nation. And what we think it should be instead is a transportation tax that includes mass transit and other options that improve our air quality," said Marc Heileson, Sierra Club organizer.

The coalition is revving up a public relations campaign to sell the idea of higher taxes. Members say initial signs from Capitol Hill have been encouraging, but our poll suggests it will be a tough fight.


John Hollenhorst
    Tom Callan


      Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
      By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

      KSL Weather Forecast