by Max Brantley
Call me cynical. Idle talk from the truck lobby about maybe, possibly, if-the-creek-don't-rise supporting an unspecified diesel tax increase next year (free beer tomorrow) strikes me first as a ploy to further work against repeal of the truck/trailer total sales tax exemption set to go into effect July 1. It was supposed to be a companion measure to voter passage of a diesel tax increase, but the election was scrapped because of expected failure. Truckers first said they wanted to keep the sales tax break anyway, but an uproar forced a grudging agreement to voice support for repeal.
But the giveback can't happen without legislative action and rules severely restrict anything but budget work in the coming fiscal session.
The sizable Republican legislative contingent has already made clear its enmity toward anything that could be called a tax increase (this technically wouldn't be an increase; repealing the exemption would only stop implementation of a planned cut). But between election year anti-tax fervor and the difficulty in repealing the tax giveaway without an extraordinary majority vote in the fiscal session, the truckers are well positioned to see the giveaway take effect in July 1 as scheduled. That should be an outrage to other taxpayers unable to pull disappearing tax tricks on the legislature. But, if they can oil the waters by promising a proposed diesel increase effort of some amount some time in the great by and by, it might make the something-for-nothing deal go down a little easier.
Perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps we should trust the good intentions of the truck lobby, which is single-handedly responsible for destroying interstates at a rate faster than taxpayers can rebuild them, even though we keep borrowing money to do it.