Business leaders: Raise taxes, fees for roads, bridges

The Mississippi Economic Council created the “MEC Blueprint Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Task Force” to study the state’s road and bridge maintenance problems and make recommendations to the Legislature. MEC held off on pushing the issue in the 2015 legislative session because it was an election year. The report was released Friday, and MEC also is announcing the creation of “Excelerate Mississippi,” a program to push for the initiatives outlined in the report….

…The task force doesn’t specify what taxes or fees to raise to provide the $375 million but offers a “menu” for lawmakers to consider and shows the amount of money increases in each category would generate. The study notes:

A 1-cent per gallon increase in the state’s 18.4 cents a gallon excise on gas and diesel would provide $21.7 million.
A $10 fee increase on vehicle license plates would provide $27.5 million
A general sales tax increase — exempting groceries and medicine — would provide $177.8 million for each .05 percent increase
A sales tax on gas and diesel would generate $23.7 million for every .05 percent increase
A 2 percent excise increase on rental cars would generate $2.5 million

It also lists other potential taxes or fees, including a “vehicle-miles-traveled” fee, but says the revenue is unknown and collecting the fee would be costly. It also notes that state law now allows toll roads, but the state currently has none.