Connecticut's State Gas Tax is Sixth Highest in the US; Two States Seek to Defeat Increases

Connecticut’s state gas tax – criticized both because some consider it to be too high and because others point out that it is insufficient to keep the state’s roads and bridges maintained appropriately – is not among the highest in the nation, but comes close. Leading the way with the highest state gas tax levels are Pennsylvania (59 cents a gallon), California (54 cents), Washington (49 cents), Hawaii (48 cents), and New York (46 cents).  Connecticut is the nation’s sixth highest, at 44 cents a gallon, followed by Indiana (42 cents), Florida, Michigan and New Jersey (41 cents).

In California, voters will see a referendum question on the November ballot that if passed would repeal a gas tax increase (12 cents a gallon) that was passed by the state legislature a year ago as part of a comprehensive transportation funding package to pay for highway, road and bridge repairs, as well as public transit projects in the state.  Recent polls predict a close vote on Proposition 6.

In Missouri, voters will consider Proposition D, which would increase the fuel tax in that state by 2.5 cents a year for four years, totaling 10 cents a gallon. The proposal is intended to provide a stable funding stream to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, as well as millions of dollars to the Missouri Department of Transportation to repair and maintain the state's highways and bridges, according to published reports.

New Jersey’s gas tax, which had been one of the lowest in the nation, was increased in 2016 by 23 cents per gallon under a bipartisan deal engineered by then-Chris Christie and the Legislature.  That pushed New Jersey into the top 10 highest rates in the nation, and was the state’s first gas tax increase since 1988, according to news stories at the time.

In total, 27 states have raised or reformed their gas taxes since 2013.  Indiana instituted a 10-cent increase in 2017; Oregon approved a 10-cent phase-in that began this year. The South Carolina legislature overrode a Governor’s veto to enact a 12-cent-per- gallon increase in the tax rate to be phased in over 6 years, according to data compiled by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  Oklahoma’s legislature approved a 3 cent increase this year - that state’s first since 1987.

The federal government last raised the gasoline tax 25 years ago in 1993, since then the states – in the vast majority of instances – have nudged tax rates upward in their individual jurisdictions.  The lowest state rates are in Alaska (15 cents a gallon), Missouri and Oklahoma (17 cents), Mississippi, Arizona and New Mexico (19 cents).