Gas Tax Revenues Only for Highway Purposes

Issue brief
Taxes & Fees Transportation 

Often, people will look at a new tax or fee on motor vehicle fuels or motor vehicles and ask whether the 18th Amendment will apply. The people adopted the 18th Amendment because they didn’t want taxes that the Legislature said were to build roads to be used for other things. Certain advocates continue to want drivers and motor vehicles to subsidize other public transportation programs. The Legislature has been able to put new taxes and fees on motor vehicle fuel and license fees by not making the fee or tax ”for highway purposes.” There is an on-going debate about whether a road usage charge (pay-by-mile or highway-user fee) should allow revenues to pay for non-highway transportation needs. This issue brief provides some historical context for people who want to better understand this topic. The arguments today are similar to those made almost a century ago.