• Lawmakers pass bill raising gas tax to improve interstates

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    ATLANTA - Your commute is about to get better, but it's going to cost you.
     
    Lawmakers passed a plan overnight raising the gas tax to pay for a near billion dollar plan.
     
    The compromise between House and Senate versions of the plan, which now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, hinged on the amount of excise taxes people would pay per gallon on gasoline, with proceeds dedicated to transportation. Lawmakers set that at 26 cents per gallon, with diesel fuel at 29 cents per gallon and expect it to raise $700 million.
     
    Deal wanted a billion dollars a year to keep interstates and bridges up to snuff. That's why lawmakers passed the new gas tax.
     
    The pressure-packed debate has engaged and occasionally upset wide varieties of Capitol onlookers, from anti-tax organizations to local school districts. After the House vote, Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, credited members with a "tough" vote.
     
    "I acknowledge that," Ralston said. "This General Assembly was tasked with doing what other general assemblies have kicked down the road, and they met that challenge tonight."
     State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, criticized the rush before voting “no.”
     
    "It cannot be denied that what is before you is a massive tax increase," McKoon said.
     
    A variety of other changes help make up the total, including:
     
    — A new $200 fee on electric vehicles.
     
    — A new $5 per night hotel or motel fee.
     
    — A new fee on heavy trucks, $50 or $100 annually, dependent on weight.
     
    — The elimination of the state's $5,000 tax credit for new purchases or leases of electric cars after July 1. Supporters had hoped to have the credit phased out.
     
    — The elimination of a tax break on jet-fuel purchases at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The break had benefited one of the state's largest companies, Delta Air Lines, and other airlines.


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