SANTA FE (KRQE) — A lot of things have changed in New Mexico since 1995, but the state gas tax isn't one of them.
The rate of 17 cents per gallon per gallon of gas has stayed stuck, even as gas prices themselves have tripled and construction costs have increased.
The 21 cents per gallon diesel tax has stayed the same since 2004.
The vast majority of that money goes to maintenance and construction costs of state roads and bridges with a January forecast estimating the state road fund will receive $207 million in gas and diesel taxes next fiscal year.
Rep. Bobby Gonzales, D-Taos, says New Mexico infrastructure funding needs a shot in the arm and soon.
He's introduced a bill that would increase state gas and diesel taxes by a nickel per gallon starting in July. That would increase prices at the pump for New Mexico drivers, but would also raise approximately $55 million for state road projects if gas sales remained consistent.
Local and county road projects would also get a boost.
Ruben Baca, executive director of the New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association, acknowledges that the gas tax has stayed flat for a long time but says raising the tax would increase a disadvantage nontribal gas stations have when competing with tribal gas stations.
That's because tribal gas stations are exempt from the state gas tax.
Gonzales' proposal isn't the only one looking to raise the gas tax.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has a bill that would raise the gas tax 2 cents in 2019 and provide for future increases every year after that. The diesel tax would be affected the same way.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.