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Thune Signals GOP Willing to Discuss Raising Gasoline Tax

Senator John Thune is promising sanity in Washington. Not only does he say "We're not going to shut the government down" in the GOP's ongoing attacks on President Obama, but he offers the home folks (i.e., Dennis Daugaard) some cover by expressing Republican openness to raising taxes to fix roads:

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Thune said that while he is opposed to increasing the gas tax, lawmakers will need to "keep all options" available when they return to Washington this week.

"I don't favor increasing any tax," Thune said. "But I think we have to look at all options."

..."I don't think we take anything off the table at this point," said Thune, who will chair the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Energy Committee. "Those discussions continue... It is important that we fund infrastructure" [Kevin Cirilli, "GOP Senator Leaves Wiggle Room on Gas Tax," The Hill, 2015.01.04].

Senator Thune can't quite break the chains of GOP-Grover Norquist absolutism. But for sloganeering Republicans, the acknowledgment that one might have to actually raise revenues to pay for vital public goods is a step in the right direction. Now if we can get Senator Thune to talk like that during the 2016 campaign, voters might actually get some healthy policy discussion.


  1. Douglas Wiken 2015.01.04

    Raising taxes on gasoline for cars is not a step in the right direction until taxes on diesel truck fuels and diesel trucks are greatly increased. Every mile of travel by a heavy truck does about 15,000 times as much damage as does a light car. GOP tax raising ideas leave engineers shaking their heads.

  2. Tim 2015.01.04

    Douglas, I can spell that for you, Koch. Koch has a huge trucking outfit, I hope you don't expect republicans to raise taxes on them, no way Koch can be expected to pay their fair share when there are so many of us that can pay it.

  3. Steve Sibson 2015.01.04

    Tim, why do you expect the Kochs have to "pay their fair share", while dead beats don't pay their fair share as they have their health care paid for, along with food, housing, and energy?

  4. jerry 2015.01.04

    What dead beats don pay for their healthcare, their food, their housing and their energy Sibson? What group of people in your mind follow that?

  5. Disgusted Dakotan 2015.01.04

    The USA and SD do NOT have a revenue problem, they have a priority in spending and a spending problem.

  6. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    I don't favor increasing any tax,Uncle Gwover Norquist will tan my hide if I do. How do these tools get elected. The gubmint doesn't run without tax revenues and wingnuts have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can outspend and out debt and deficit way more than those godless tax and spend liberals.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    Sibby you neo,whacked out,fascist knucklehead you. I just applied for fuel assistance after I checked my cola for disability and it comes to 4.5 bucks more per month. Haven't applied for food stamps yet. I'm still eating spuds from last summer's garden. Still waiting for my new SUV and Obama phone,too.

  8. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    Texas refuses to tax oil company trucks to repair roads. When the pavement gets busted up it is replaced by gravel.

  9. JeniW 2015.01.04

    Steve S., if there is someone in Mitchell is getting all that "free" stuff without being qualified for it, I hope that you are reporting it to the state.

    If you are not reporting it, you are enabling the individual to commit fraud.

  10. Tim 2015.01.04

    Sibson intercepts another thread with his right wing bullshit, I'll move along as I refuse to get sucked into his perverted world, his insinuation has been answered here and other places over and over. If it hasn't sunk in by now, it never will.

  11. JeniW 2015.01.04

    You are correct Tim. I typically ignore Steve S,, but bit the bait this time.

    Sorry folks...

  12. jerry 2015.01.04

    Sibson is a phony. He makes statements and then cowers off into the weeds like a jackal. He hopes that he does not have to answer for the statement posted.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.04

    Disgusted Dakotan makes a good point with his prioritizing in spending comment.
    Don't we already have federal and state gasoline taxes being collected for road improvement? Where is that money being spent? Is South Dakota putting those taxes into that huge reserve account?
    Where in the hell did that gasoline tax money go so that the state cannot make basic improvements to our highways? It went somewhere.

  14. Mike Verchio 2015.01.04

    A large chunk goes to bike trails & lanes , snowmobile trails ,
    boat ramps & state parks where the users are dead set against paying for their own recreation .

  15. Tim 2015.01.04

    RC, this is THE ONE THING I do agree with Daugaard on, it is much more expensive to build a road now than it was the last time fuel taxes were raised. We need an increase to replace purchasing power lost to price increases over the years. I agree some of the huge cash reserves the state is holding should be used and not sat on, but I prefer to see that go to teacher raises, let the people that drive pay for the roads with an increase in fuel taxes. Now is the time to raise those taxes while gas prices are down and would be easier to swallow. My opinion.

  16. Tim 2015.01.04

    Rep Verchio, maybe GF&P should be paying that out of camping fees ect?

  17. Don Coyote 2015.01.04

    Vehicle miles traveled using diesel is on the rise and is projected to continue rising as the economy continues improving. VMT using pure gasoline have dropped due to habits developed during the recession, increases in lower taxed ethanol due to the renewable fuel standards and mandated increases in car fuel efficiencies and are projected to continue dropping. The free-riders in this scenario aren't the trucks but all those people driving their clown cars powered by 10% - 15% ethanol.

  18. jerry 2015.01.04

    Clown cars don't beat the crap out of the roads Don Coyote. If there were just cars on these highways, we would not see them so beaten to hell. Alternative would be for rail service to haul that freight.

  19. Loren 2015.01.04

    But I thought the GOP answer to any problem was a tax CUT, you know, that creates jobs, more people pay tax, problem solved! Just ask the Kansas gov. Works great!

  20. Lynn 2015.01.04

    Don Coyote,

    "Vehicle miles traveled using diesel is on the rise and is projected to continue rising as the economy continues improving." Are you sure about that with the cheap gasoline we have now and may be here for a while? There is a substantial premium charge for having diesels depending on whether you are talking about a car or pickup. DEF fluid and with all the extra emissions on Diesels may have affected their long term reliability and lifespan as compared to older generation diesels. Plus if that diesel ever needs to go to the shop for repairs it can be terribly expensive compared to a conventional gasoline engine but I'm sure you already know that.

    Diesel powered vehicles can be great with the right application and there are some really good ones on the market but I would imagine cheap gasoline has played a part in hurting sales.

  21. Lynn 2015.01.04

    Diesel fuel prices didn't come down as much as gasoline. Biodiesel is a summer fuel so that is another reason making it harder to justify a diesel purchase right now with that kind of a spread in fuel prices.

  22. Jaka 2015.01.04

    anyone remember the good old "surcharge" placed on delivery of anything when fuel costs went up several years ago???!! On groceries and all!! But--not a word has been spoken about taking these charges off. Must be a whole bunch of Republican businessmen out there who love to add on "costs" to a product but never want to "tax"!! Like SDakota governmental 'FEES'.....

  23. Lynn 2015.01.04


    Many of the large pizza chains added the delivery fee or increased an existing one when gas prices were so high which like you mentioned is till in place even though those gas prices are cheap in comparison today. Many customers thought that delivery charge went to compensate delivery drivers for added fuel expenses. It didn't! Instead it became a great opportunity to increase profits for the pizza companies.

  24. larry kurtz 2015.01.04

    Steve Hickey is convinced the sky is falling, doom, gloom and despair because of cheap oil but raising the federal tax on gasoline seems like a just another way to subsidize Big Energy even as BP balks on paying fines for killing the Gulf of Mexico. Nationalizing the energy sector makes far more sense than believing anything don Juan Thune says.

  25. Disgusted Dakotan 2015.01.04

    Diesel is the cheapest fuel to refine, 20+ years ago it was much cheaper than gas. Politicians found out they could tax the crap out of it and now it is much more expensive.

    At what point does the government take too much from tax paying citizens? We are near the point now that we have taxation without representation, Rounds received more money to get elected from outside sources than in SD. Weiland wasn't any better. Thune has 9+ million $$$ in his war chest, most from outside SD.

    This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, but a "we the people" issue.

    There is about $0.22 SD tax on every gallon of fuel sold, with an additional $0.22-0.25 federal tax.

  26. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    Before ethanol lost its subsidy,it was about a dime a gallon cheaper than unleaded fuel. Now it is 30 to 35 cents a gallon cheaper than unleaded. Huh!!

  27. Lynn 2015.01.04

    DD and Tim Diesel is a by product produced from refining gasoline right? They probably figured it out that there was big profits to be made selling diesel when the railroads lost a great deal of business to the trucking industry.

  28. Tim 2015.01.04

    Actually Lynn, I think it's the other way around, they used to dispose of gasoline as waste back in the days of kerosene lamps. Kerosene is a rough version of diesel.

  29. Tim 2015.01.04

    There are a lot of things they have to gas to clean it up for today's cars. I used to get a kick out of higher prices for unleaded gas back when you could buy leaded gas, they had to add the lead to leaded but charged more for unleaded. They are doing the same thing in the diesel market now, in the name of profit.

  30. Don Coyote 2015.01.04

    @Jerry: Not saying the semis don't have an effect but 4 quadrillion light duty/passenger and light duty truck vehicle miles will certainly contribute to pounding the highways to gravel. That's almost 18x the miles semis log in a year.

  31. jerry 2015.01.04

    Then I should open a gas station on the interstate for all that traffic in South Dakota. They must be driving when I am not as I see a whole lot of heavy trucks when I am on the road.

  32. Don Coyote 2015.01.04

    A lot of reasons why diesel prices have remain high.

    There is only about 10-12 gallons of diesel in a barrel of oil while there 18-21 gallons of gas. Plus US refineries are optimized towards gasoline production.

    Greater Federal fuel tax on diesel 24.4¢ vs gas 18.4¢.

    Demand has remained strong for diesel with increasing demand from farmers (late harvest), Bakken oil fields using more for running generators 24/7 to power the pumps and heavy use of trucks and trains to get the oil out of ND because of the tight pipeline capacity.

    Early start to heating season. Heating oil is essentially the same as diesel.

    Strengthening economy means greater truck traffic delivery goods.

    Exports of diesel have remained strong. In Europe gasoline is heavily taxed while diesel isn't making diesel the fuel of choice for passenger vehicles.

    Good article from the Milwaukee Journal Setinel.

  33. mike from iowa 2015.01.05

    Fuel oil is Number 1 diesel fuel. Otherwise it would gel up in extreme cold weather.

  34. Nick Nemec 2015.01.05

    Rep. Verchio, do you have any figures as to how much money is spent on bike/walking trails here in SD verses how much is spent on roads? I'm not opposed to spending money on bike trails especially if it gets bike riders and pedestrians off the road thereby increasing the safety for all. On a personal note I wish there was a bike/walking trail along SD47 in Highmore for the 1/4 of a mile south of the US14 intersection. SD47 has no shoulders on this stretch and there is a lot of pedestrian and bike traffic as adults and kids travel from town to the businesses located at the junction.

  35. leslie 2015.01.05

    freight trucks cause 99% of highway wear but only pay 35% of maintenance. hidden trucking industry subsidy

  36. Les 2015.01.05

    What Verchio does not say about those bike, boat and snowmobile trails getting funding. These folks pay road tax and get no return without these rewards. He also does not talk of money going into farm plantings. I don't remember if it is coniflowers, roses or shelter belts, something totally unrelated to having paid in with no return as farmers get fuel tax credit for off-road use.

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