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    Gas Tax Increases Could Be Inevitable

    Congress, three states consider hikes for deficit- and Superstorm Sandy-related reasons.

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Motorists already unhappy with the price of gasoline could soon have something else to add "fuel to the fire." Congress, as well as three states, are considering gas tax increases.

    As for Congress, the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said last week the government needs to explore all funding options to reduce the national deficit, including a higher gas tax, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Last increased in 1993, the federal gas tax currently stands at 18.4 cents per gallon. Gas tax revenue has declined in recent years as consumers have driven fewer miles and switched to more gas efficient vehicles.

    In three states, motorists could see a second gas tax go up. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Iowa are all considering raising state gasoline taxes.

    In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has long promised he would not raise the state tax. However, state officials have stated that the state needs to collect additional gas taxes in order to repair infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

    The current New Jersey gasoline tax is the third-lowest in the country at 14.5 cents per gallon, and hasn't been raised since 1988.

    If a new gas tax were approved in the Garden State, transit advocates recommended a 10-cent-per gallon increase.

    Across the border in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett said last week he is considering an increase in one component of the state's gas tax. Pennsylvania's current gas tax is 32.3 cents per gallon when factoring in an underground storage tank fee.

    If the gas tax were increased in Pennsylvania, it would go up by 22 cents. According to the Inquirer, the higher gas tax would be phased in during a five-year period.

    Heading west to Iowa, a coalition of farm and business groups have pushed Iowa legislators to hike the state gas tax by 10 cents.

    According to the Des Moines Register, advocates of the gas tax increase say it is necessary to fund a $215-million annual shortfall for critical maintenance and improvements needed by Iowa's road system.

    A spokesman for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the newspaper the governor would look favorably upon raising tax revenue only if the proposal were contained "within a board, overall tax reform package that reduces taxes on all Iowans."

    Currently, Iowa's state gas tax is 22 cents per gallon.

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