It's the first time since 1998 that the fuel tax was raised. It was nine cents and the Legislature added a nickel to 14 where it is today. If Governor Mead signs House Bill 69, the gas tax will go up a dime to 24 cents.
Supporters are calling it a user fee, but anyway you spin it, it's still a 70 percent increase in the gas tax. The extra 10 cents a gallon would generate $70 million a year earmarked for road maintenance and construction. The bill passed the Senate on a final vote 18-12.
Supporters, which include a host of industry groups, say the full weight of the tax shouldn't be felt by residents because of the way gas is distributed in the region. Opponent, Senator Charlie Scott says he voted against the bill because it will hit lower income folks the most. He says that WYDOT may be wasting money and it's not a true user fee because Wyoming residents will be subsidizing big trucks traveling through the state.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming's Bruce Hinchey says we had an oversupply of gas here as demand stayed the same. So suppliers dropped the price, people used more gas and the remaining oversupply was shipped to other states.
Hinchey also says look for higher prices this spring and summer as the driving season kicks into gear.