A new analysis of eight states that passed legislation to increase their state motor fuel taxes in 2015 to pay for important new transportation improvements shows that 98 percent of Republican and Democratic lawmakers who supported the bill won their primary races in 2016.
“These results should dispel any notion that voting to increase the state gas tax is politically toxic,” said American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the research. “Voters expect lawmakers to put forward solutions to help reduce traffic congestion, improve road safety and help grow the economy. They are also willing to pay for these expanded investments.”
According to the ARTBA Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC) analysis, eight states – Iowa, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Nebraska, Washington and Michigan – approved a gas tax increase or its equivalent in 2015. Six of these states had a Republican governor and Republican majority legislature at the time the legislation was passed.
For most state lawmakers who voted on a motor fuel tax measure last year, 2016 is the first time they are facing re-election. In the eight states, 231 Democratic state legislators voted in favor of increasing state motor fuel taxes (66 percent of all Democrats in office at the time of the vote).
In the 2016 primaries, 125 of these Democrats were up for re-election, with 122 winning their primary race. Just three Democrats who supported a gas tax increase and were up for re-election lost their seat in the primaries. One hundred and thirteen Democratic lawmakers voted against a gas tax increase in 2015, with 39 of those legislators up for re-election in 2016, and one losing their seat in their primary race.
In 2015, 440 Republican state legislators supported successful legislation to increase state gas taxes (65 percent of all Republicans in office at the time of the vote). In the 2016 primaries, 293 of these Republicans ran for re-election, with 287 winning, and only six losing their seat.