Chamber Gets Political

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

March 29, 2005

Business owners and employees filled up and chowed down at the Chamber of Commerce Inaugural Breakfast. So did state politicians, who did not check their opinions along with their coats, especially on the gas tax issue.

"As a very rich nation, I think we can afford to pay more gasoline taxes, more tolls, what have you, to support our transportation system," said Delegate Mitch Van Yahres (D-57th), the sole Democrat at the event.

Van Yahres believes that increasing the gas tax is one good way to pay for transportation projects, since Americans will continue to guzzle gas, no matter the price.

House Speaker William Howell (R) disagreed. He said with the rise of more fuel-efficient cars, such as hybrids, people are going to spend less on gas.

"You know the interesting thing that a lot of people are overlooking, including Van Yahres, no surprise there, is that cars are getting better and better gas mileage and the gas tax is getting less and less meaningful," said Howell.

But Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24th) said “slow down.” He believes a decision cannot be made for or against a rise in the gas tax until more studies are conducted on transportation needs.

"I really think it is inappropriate to say where we are going to get additional money from, that is, if we need additional money," said Hanger.

Hanger is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

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