Tennessee spends less on a per-capita basis than almost any other state on its highways and roads, yet enjoys roadways that are better than those in most states. But according to a new paper produced by researchers at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, roadway quality is now at risk unless new funding is found.
Fuel tax rates are among the lowest in the nation, yet Tennessee boasts a roadway network that has better pavement, better bridges, and less congestion than most comparable state systems. Concerns are mounting that these benefits are at risk because of a funding outlook that continues to deteriorate.
The state’s gasoline tax was last raised—from 16 to 20 cents per gallon—more than 25 years ago, in 1989.
Currently, the state’s gasoline tax of 21.4 cents a gallon (which includes a special petroleum products tax) ranks 12th lowest in the U.S., and Tennessee is one of only five states that are free of highway-related debt. Gasoline and diesel tax revenues not only support state roadways but are shared with cities and counties across the state. [Read more…]