Local News

Conservative Group Wants Lawmakers To Repeal State Gas Tax

Posted January 4, 2006 7:03 a.m. EST

— A North Carolina political group is speaking out in advance of an energy legislative committee scheduled to meet Thursday, having collected more than 22,000 petitions calling for lawmakers to roll back a gas tax increase that went into effect Jan. 1.

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  • North Carolina Conservatives United helped raise awareness of the state's 3-cent-per-gallon increase through its Web site,


    , radio advertisements and television appearances.

    "Folks have had enough, and they just want some relief," Bill Graham, chairman of Conservatives United, told reporters Wednesday at the Legislative Building.

    Graham sharply criticizes a 20-year-old state system that shifts millions of dollars from a highway trust fund for non-transportation projects and thinks lawmakers should find a better way to generate road-building money.

    "Good government depends on people getting involved," Graham told reporters Wednesday at the Legislative Building. "Over 22,000 North Carolinians have gotten involved by speaking out and letting (legislators) hear that they want to repeal this latest gas tax hike."

    He says that Gov. Mike Easley and the state Democrats want to spend that extra money and force taxpayers to pay higher gas taxes.

    "The problem is with the leadership," he said. "The problem is with people allowing our pockets to get picked, and I think folks are tired of it."

    Easley, however, opposes a special legislative session to repeal the tax, maintaining that rolling back the gasoline tax would widen the gap between transportation dollars and road-building needs while providing little tax relief to motorists.

    The Legislature also should consider reducing or eliminating the transfer of money from the Highway Trust Fund to the state's general operating fund, Graham said. The state budget called for a $252 million transfer this fiscal year.

    The state motor fuel excise tax rose by 2.8 cents per gallon to 29.9 cents, largely due to higher gas prices after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The tax is recalculated twice annually based on the average wholesale cost of fuel. The tax, which generates money for road improvements and construction, is among the highest in the nation.

    Every penny of the gasoline tax generates $53 million annually.