Lawmakers say raising the state gas tax is unlikely

Mar 10, 2018

An interim Legislative committee will be looking at ways to raise more money for highway construction and repair.

The state has traditionally used proceeds from the gasoline tax to match federal transportation dollars. During the oil boom, lawmakers used money from oil tax revenues to supplement the state’s share.

There had been some talk of increasing the gas tax. It's currently 23 cents a gallon. But one of the members of the interim Government Finance Committee believes that may be a non-starter.

"I remember in the 2005 session, when we raised it the last time," said Sen. Gary Lee (R-Casselton). "That was a tough go back then, and I'm sure it wouldn't be any different now."

Lee said he thinks the committee will look at other ways to raise revenue for roads rather than a gas tax increase.

"It would have to raise substantially in order to make it work," Lee said. "I'm sure the feds are looking at the gas tax, too."

At the national level, there’s been a lot of talk about toll roads. But the chairman of that committee – Sen. Ron Sorvaag (R-Fargo)  – said he doesn’t see that happening in North Dakota.

"I come from Fargo -- we had a toll bridge," Sorvaag said. "It wasn't well received. But it's very well received now, since there's no longer a toll on it."

Sorvaag’s committee could make recommendations to the 2019 Legislature.