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Business and Economy

Maine Bill Would Index Gas Tax to Fuel Efficiency Standards

AUGUSTA, Maine - Democratic Rep. Andrew McLean of Gorham, co-chair of the Legislature's Transportation Committee, is proposing to automatically increase gas taxes as the federal standard for fuel efficiency in vehicles goes up.

The idea, McLean says, is to provide enough revenue to maintain and improve the state's roads and bridges.

"We are seeing less and less money coming into the highway fund because of increasing fuel efficiency in cars," McLean says. "So it directly ties the gas tax to the problem that we are seeing with revenue in the highway fund."

It was just three years ago that lawmakers abolished gas tax indexing based on inflation. The Republican co-chair of the Transportation Committee, Sen. Ron Collins of Wells, says the proposal will face opposition because folks don't like automatic tax increases no matter what triggers the increase.

"Gasoline tax indexing has not been very popular in Maine," Collins says. "A lot of my constituents, back home, were criticizing about it because it's kind of like a tax increase on automatic pilot."