WA’s falling gas tax

Did you know that despite an increase of 13 cents a gallon over the past few years, Washington state’s motor fuel excise tax, as a percentage of the retail price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline, has actually fallen from about 21.9% in May of 1998 to about 9.6% in May of 2008? And did you know that at 36 cents a gallon, our state gas tax is still well below historic averages in inflation adjusted dollars?

Surprised?  I wasn’t.

Coming up, I’ll one-up Barack Obama and explain why we not only shouldn’t be cutting the gas tax, but raising it.  Dramatically.  Stay tuned.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I think we should slap a sales tax on gas — on top of the fuel tax — and use the money to pay for mass transportation. If we did this, there’s no reason why you couldn’t board a 300-mph mag-lev train in downtown Seattle and ride it all the way to Spokane, Vancouver, or Bellingham. This would also bring $1.49 gas back, because it would reduce consumption so much the Arabs wouldn’t be able to give away their oil.

  2. 4

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    One thing being promoted as alternatives to the gas tax, is private financing, where most likely tolls would be used. Now I have seen a few non-solicited dubious schemes out there, where one wants to capitalize on the higher fuel prices, and people looking for alternatives to get to certain places.


    A New Transportation Alternative without Raising Taxes

    DesertXpress will be privately financed and would extend over nearly 200 miles on new, high quality exclusive double track with no at-grade crossings. DesertXpress would provide a convenient and efficient travel alternative to Interstate 15.

    With trains departing both ends of the line as frequently as every 20 minutes on Fridays and Sundays, and hourly during most of the week, passengers would not need to worry about traffic congestion, erratic timetables and long security lines.

    The vast majority of DesertXpress passengers will be diverted from I-15, to the tune of almost 22% of all the cars that currently travel on the freeway between Victorville and Las Vegas.

    As a “for-profit” private passenger railroad, DesertXpress presents an opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate its ability to implement needed transportation without federal or state funding. Revenues from fares and advertising make the project financially feasible without public funds.

    At least that promoter was trying, but there is a serious flaw in that. Does Victorville want to become a giant Park and Ride? WIll it even work? The best thing to do is if it fails, buy the track they plan to build, and have Amtrak California take it over for their proposed service to Las Vegas that is moribund due to inability to deal with Union Pacific at times. THe thing about CalTrans proposed LA-LV train? There terminal will not be Victorville, but Los Angeles Union Station. There is a market for it, I am sure that there will be fewer flights out of Los Angeles-area to McCarron Airport in Las Vegas, freeing up slots for longer flights.

    One thing about transportation funding, one of these days we are going to have to find an alternative to the Gas Tax, especially when cars get more fuel-efficient. A few years ago Oregon was considering higher license fees for Hybrids, and there is their proposed Road User Fee, but that is a long way from implementation if it even clears political hurdles.

  3. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 I’ve never disagreed with you on that point, Goldy. I’ve only opposed paying for a poorly designed and too-costly light rail system with a general sales tax, which is a different animal. In fact, here’s what I posted under that thread:

    “The Monorail failed because of bad leadership, and the seeds of its destruction were planted when the Monorail board was given authority to appoint itself. Otherwise, I agree with your comment, Goldy. I think the legal analysis (which, as you candidly point out, did not originate with you) is sound. I think your strategic thinking is sound. I think your crystal-ball gazing is sound, too.”

  4. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Roger Rabbit’s Thought Of The Day

    When Republicans extol “freedom” they mean stealing without being prosecuted for it.

  5. 7

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    How come the vast majority of your mental energy goes into figuring out ways to panhandle money from taxpayers.
    Oh….and your lameass effort to convert a cents/gallon into a % of gas prices to make us feel better about having one of the highest State Gas Taxes and the worst traffic…is, well, lameass.

    I have an idea—
    as a key Gregoire Advisor, why not demand that Christine slap that sales tax on Gas???
    Great idea Goldy.

  6. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 Trying walking, Cynical. You’ll live longer and won’t have to pay any gas taxes.

  7. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @10 It’s hardly shocking that states with small populations and large oil/gas revenues have lower gas taxes than we do.

    Nor am I amazed that tobacco taxes are low in tobacco-producing states, Wisconsin has a low beer tax, and wine taxes tend to be lower in wine-producing states (including Washington).

    What is surprising is how many states have sales taxes that aren’t much less than ours, considering that Washington is one of only a handful of states that don’t have a state income tax.

    BTW, why didn’t they list income tax rates in that chart? Washington’s would be a big fat 0.0%.

    Comparisons like this basically prove nothing, because various states choose to tax some things more, and other things less. Even a comparison of sales taxes isn’t accurate unless you take into account what’s included or exempted from the tax. In Washington, there’s no sales tax on food, medicines, or services. While our nominal sales tax is fairly high (although not the highest), it’s concentrated on a relatively small portion of the retail economy.

    Fuel taxes are affected by such factors as the state’s total fuel consumption (which is a fucntion of population and distance), how extensive the road network is, whether the terrain is flat or mountainous and how many bridges are needed, climate conditions that cause concrete cracking, and so on. These factors vary graatly from state to state.

  8. 12

    GS spews:

    Let’s all swith to Al Gore’s Biofuel….Ooops Damn Hunger, Shit we din’t think about that

    Let’s all switch to uh well Battery yeh that’s it! where we gonna dispose of all those Damn batteries

    Well could we run a car on 10,000 floresent light bulbs over a solar roof – yeh but where’s all that mercury going to go in a wreck (hazardous waste site)

    well let’s think about it …… People don’t really need to work now do they. Yeh thats it..

    Yeh, but we won’t drill for new oil in Anwar!

    Nope Oil Bad

    Gotta go to war with Democrats to get US Oil

    Nope Oil Bad

    How we all gonna get to DL

    Better Question
    How Booze going to get delivered to DL

    Nope Oil Bad

    Cucko Clocks unwinding


  9. 13

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right. The absolute state tax on a gallon of gas (36 cents) has not declined, but you’re saying that the gas tax is “down” because it’s a smaller percentage of the full retail price of a gallon of gas at the pump?

    Goldy, that’s the same as saying the state’s gas tax is smaller now, as a percentage of the state’s minimum wage, than it was a decade ago. The minimum wage has gone up, but does that make the poor stoner living on minimum wage feel and live any better?

    Goldy, you’re manipulating mathematical relationships to try to convince us that gas taxes are lower now than a year ago. It simply ain’t true, partner. Hell, Ray Charles could see through that argument, and not only is Ray blind, he’s dead!

    Nice try, but no cigar, Goldy.

  10. 14

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Roger said,

    “BTW, why didn’t they list income tax rates in that chart? Washington’s would be a big fat 0.0%.”

    And let’s all hope and pray that Wasington’s income tax stays at zero percent forever!

  11. 16

    zip spews:

    Goldy, I’m with Mr C @7,
    How about you persuade “the gov” to add your proposed huge gas tax increase to her exciting platform? I’ll gladly stay tuned for that.

    And Roger, our B&O tax is equivalent to (and worse than) an income tax. At a rate of around 11% on a small business owner.

  12. 17

    Reformed republican spews:

    Sorry politically incorrect:
    What we should wish for is a graded income tax for Washington state – while outlawing any sales taxes. That would be more stable and more fair and help businesses – also we should get rid of the stupid B and O tax for business and tax profits – not total receipts. We need total tax reform in this state. We have an atniquated and unfair system. As far as gas taxes – they are high – but they should be left alone and dedicated to improving roads, rail and mass transit only.

  13. 19

    "Hannah" spews:

    Gas tax falling? I don’t recall a tax (whether it be gas, sales, levy) that was supposed to be to “pay for this or that” ever FALLING AWAY after the initial project was complete. Ever heard of a 20 year bond that has long been past the 20 year mark, just falling away?

    State gas tax is NOT a perecentage of the gallon of gas, just as federal gas tax is not either. Unless our gas tax has gone down in cents (36 cents to say 30 cents) it is not “falling”

  14. 22

    cmiklich spews:

    Because of the gentrification (read: Elimination of minorities and poor) caused by ST, the very same people the Dems purport to help are even worse off because they must move ever further from their jobs/industrial hubs.

    So, these same poor must pay ever more gas taxes. But, Goldy, who hates the poor and the minorities wants to raise their taxes and make them even poorer. Wow. How elitist of you.

    How simply Democrat of you.

  15. 23

    Charlie Smith spews:

    I think all the candidates are fucking us beyond recognition by failing to push a standby tax on gas. If the price of oil falls below $105 a barrel, the standby gas tax starts to kick in at $.05 for every $.20 the average price of gas drops. If it never drops, no tax. If it does drop below $3.00/ gallon, the painless tax kicks in and grows as a revenue source. If gas ever reaches $2.00/gallon, we could pay off the national debt in 20 years.

  16. 25

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Keep raising Gas Taxes to get poor people off the roads and into busses where they belong!!
    It will also keep worn-out beaters with worn-out tires from breaking down on the I-90 Bridge.

  17. 26

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    A friend of mine attended a conference recently which included our esteemed Governor. One fo the speakers shared that it costs 10 units of Bio-energy to create 1 unit of Bio-energy.
    The only solution to energy issues are:
    1) Nuclear Plants
    2) Wind
    3) Tidal
    4) More refineries and domestic oil production.

    Bio is and was always a JOKE perpetrated by the fringe lunatic LEFTISTS.

  18. 27

    Sam Adams spews:

    With all the $$$ this state takes in taxes, fees, licenses, permits etc etc you are still ranting that they don’t get enough?

    Kiss my @ss!

    Properly account for what you already have and spent it in a prudent fashion BEFORE telling me I have to give up more.

    Oh…I forgot…it’s not really my money….Never mind.

  19. 28

    mark spews:

    The dems in Olympia are considering a tax
    on bloggers, something along the line of 10 cents per thread. That could be fair considering all the advertising revenue that
    comes from very little effort.

  20. 29

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Reformed Republican,

    No income tax for Washington state! Never, never, ever!

    I’ll keep the sales taxes and others. I DO NOT want yet another government agency sticking its nose into my financial affairs. My wealth is MINE! Not the goddam state’s!

    Feel free, however, to write a check and mail it to the Department of Revenue if you feel so strongly about income taxes. I would never stand in the way of you putting your money where your mouth is.

  21. 30

    Don Joe spews:

    My wealth is MINE! Not the goddam state’s!

    Let’s play a little socratic game: How is it even possible for you to have wealth and income in the first place?