Fact-check: Katie Hobbs backed bill to double Arizona gasoline taxes

Fact-check: Katie Hobbs backed bill to double Arizona gasoline taxes


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  • Katie Hobbs co-sponsored a bill in 2018 to raise gas taxes from 18 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon. The measure never received a vote by the full Senate.
  • Arizona’s gas tax has remained at 18 cents per gallon since it was set in 1990.
  • Without increases, the gasoline tax revenue’s capacity to maintain roads and bridges erodes with inflation.

See the sources for this fact-check


In the run-up to the midterm elections, Republicans have blamed Democrats for rising gas prices.

In an Oct. 12 news conference, GOP candidate Kari Lake attacked her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, saying Hobbs “has voted to double our gas tax.”

Arizona’s tax on gasoline is 18 cents per gallon, which was set in 1990 and has not changed since. Larger vehicles — which include tractors and trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds or having more than two axles — pay a 26 cent per gallon tax.

Hobbs was a member of the Arizona Senate from 2013 to 2019, and in 2018, she co-sponsored Senate Bill 1336, which would have raised the gas tax to 36 cents to help maintain the state’s highways.

The bill never received a hearing or a vote. But, according to the Congressional Research Service, co-sponsorship “is generally understood to signify a senator’s support” for a bill.

In December 2018, the average price for unleaded regular gas in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area was $2.82. This past September, that price was $4.18. Down from a peak of $5.55 in June, but still nearly 50% higher than four years earlier.

Rising energy costs, including gasoline prices, have pushed inflation higher. When energy costs more, everything costs more. This September, the combination of rising energy and housing costs contributed to the Phoenix area having the nation’s highest inflation rate.

2018 wasn’t Hobbs’ first attempt to raise money for roads and highways. In 2017, she co-sponsored a bill to add a licensing fee to alternative fuel vehicles, hoping to get those vehicles to help fund road repairs. That bill also failed to be put to a vote.

Karen McLaughlin, the fiscal analysis director for the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, said both bills were “attempts to address maintaining roads and highways.”

Richard Auxier, a senior policy associate for the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center, said if states don’t raise their gas tax rates, voters are actually given a tax cut through inflation.

“Policymakers need to increase the tax rate both to keep up with (inflation) and to ensure the state is collecting enough gas tax revenue to accommodate how much they want to spend on transportation projects,” Auxier said.

Auxier added that several states have increased gas tax rates, including Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

We reached out to the Hobbs campaign and did not hear back.

Our ruling

Kari Lake said that Katie Hobbs “has voted to double our gas tax.”

Hobbs co-sponsored a bill in 2018 to raise the state gas tax from 18 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon. The bill never received a vote.

We rate this claim Mostly True.


OUR SOURCES

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