Key legislators say they might consider erasing the state taxes on gasoline if prices rise significantly this summer. But Senate President Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says it’s not likely to happen because it would mean a 400-million dollar cut in highway construction projects.Lamberti says erasing the state gas taxes has been discussed before and rejected because the state’s transportation infrastructure is so important. But Lamberti says “if we’re sitting here six months from now and gas is three dollars a gallon” then it may be an option to consider. Lamberti says “it’s just something that if it got to be a problem, we might want to take a look” at taking some steps to reduce prices for consumers.Lamberti says if a spike in gas taxes makes the economy tank, then erasing the 20 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline might be something to consider, but he predicts there’s a “low likelihood” such a reduction would happen. Lamberti says it is the job of legislators to keep their eyes on such situations, and if things “dramatically change,” they’ll talk about the issue. The state tax on unleaded gas is 20 cents per gallon; the tax on ethanol is lower, at 17 cents per gallon. Those who pump diesel pay 21 cents per gallon in state taxes. The state collects about 400 million dollars in gas and diesel fuel taxes annually, money that’s used on roads and bridges. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs says it would be difficult to forego that 400 million. Gronstal says the state gas tax is essentially a user fee that pays for our highways, and lawmakers have to be careful not to do anything that would impede the state’s ability to build the roads needed for business and industry. Gronstal says one of the side benefits of high gas prices is that more motorists choose ethanol because it’s cheaper.
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