Possible gas tax increase worries some small businesses

(WPRI) – An $8.7 billion spending plan was passed by House lawmakers on Thursday night after nearly nine hours of debate.

The Senate will now tackle the budget with less than 18 days before the new fiscal year begins on July 1. One item that has its share of critics is raising the gasoline tax, which is a move in response to eliminating the toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Florist David Sherman has owned Woodlawn Gardens Florist in Cranston for the past 21 years and says his shop makes about 25 deliveries per day all over the state. David fears gas will now become even more expensive if the proposed state budget is signed into law.

“When we’re getting nickel and dimed from the state we have to pass that on,” he said, “They think it’s only a penny here and a penny there, but it does add up”

The increased gas tax is part of a new infrastructure fund that’s being created to avoid controversial tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. The plan calls for the gas tax to go up automatically every other year, starting with an extra penny per gallon next summer.

“This plan builds on that by dedicating even more general revenues and some modest fee and gas tax increases so that there is eventually $50 million more that will be spent annually on states roads and bridges,” said Rep. Raymond Gallison – (D) Portsmouth.

The proposed budget also includes increased vehicle inspection fees, which would jump from $39 to $55.

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