State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) says he is as conservative as they come but the first-term Alabama House member joined many other tax-averse lawmakers to pass the state’s first increase in the gas tax since 1992.
Before Gov. Kay Ivey called a special session of the legislature just to deal with the gas tax — designed to provide an estimated $320 million annually to upgrade roads, bridges and docks, as well as build a network of charging stations for electric and hybrid cars — Oliver sounded like he would be hard to sell.
But once he got seated in the Statehouse, Oliver said he felt a sense of purpose to do the right thing. He also said he feels his district will be rewarded.
A surprising amount of bipartisan support fueled the gas tax’s rapid journey through the legislature. It will go up 10 cents a gallon during the next three years.
Oliver praised Gov. Kay Ivey and the legislature as a whole for making the tough decision to raise the gas tax despite its unpopularity in some quarters.
“The governor is leading our state,” Oliver said. “She has four or five things she wants to do and she’s doing what she feels is right. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got gambling and prisons and Medicaid to come.”
He asked constituents who hate taxes to “look a little beyond their front porch.”
Oliver said he was convinced to support the bill when he felt rural areas such as Tallapoosa and Coosa counties would not be undervalued, plus he felt reassurance the necessary oversight of the funds would be in place. And Coosa County could benefit from Mercedes-Benz’s battery factory in Bibb County, as carbon for the batteries could come from Coosa’s graphite quarry.
Everyone won’t like this law but it has a chance to put Alabama on the road to the 21st century before the century is over.