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Fight Over Kentucky's Gas Tax Freeze Turns To The Airwaves

A conservative non-profit group says it doesn’t want state lawmakers to freeze the state’s plummeting gas tax.

At close to the end of the Kentucky General Assembly's 2015 session, legislators are still weighing whether to set a minimum rate for the gas tax; receipts for the fund have fallen dramatically due to low gas prices.

On Thursday, the state’s chapter of Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity began airing radio ads encouraging Kentuckians to call lawmakers to “say no to gas tax increases.”

“They can call it a freeze, but we know it’s just a way for politicians to continue lining the pockets of special interests and what’s worse is that it comes just as Kentucky families are finally receiving a break from record gas prices,” said Julia Crigler, state director of Americans for Prosperity Kentucky, in a statement online.

The group also said it’s calling lawmakers to encourage them not to take up a gas tax freeze.

The gas tax is computed based on the average wholesale price over each quarter. On April 1, the tax will drop again. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the decrease amounts to $150 million in lost revenue in the state’s road fund, which funds highway construction and maintenance in the Kentucky.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce haslaunched its own radio ads in favor of setting a minimum floor for the gas tax.

No gas tax bill has passed either chamber of the General Assembly, but the language could be added as an amendment to another revenue bill that is already poised to pass the legislature.

Lawmakers would have to pass the bill during the final two days of session next week.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.