ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Gas prices in New Mexico are the highest they’ve been in more than year, and two U.S. senators are pitching an unpopular proposal that could raise them even higher.
For the first time in decades, U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle are proposing a plan to raise taxes on gas and diesel.
They say the extra taxes will pay for the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money in August. That fund pays for construction on interstates, like the Paseo del Norte project.
The senators said since Congress hasn’t done anything about it, they’ve come up with a plan.
But New Mexico drivers aren’t on board with that plan and say they’re paying too much already.
For some drivers it has become a game to find the cheapest gas in town. Sometimes, it pays off.
One of the highest priced gas in Albuquerque is at a South Valley gas station where you’ll pay $3.69 a gallon. If you drive 15 minutes north, you will only pay $3.47 a gallon at a gas station on Rio Grande.
Still, Victor Renteria said pumping anywhere in town is too pricey.
“I think they’re going too high,” Renteria said.
Preslei Abeyta said she’s had to forgo filling up.
“It’s hard on a lot of people, like right now I have my kids and I’m just trying to find $5 here and there,” Abeyta said.
According to USA Today, gas prices are the highest they’ve been in a little more than a year in New Mexico.
According to AAA, on Jan. 1, the average price of gas in the state was $3.09.
USA Today reported Wednesday that the average now is $3.48.
The two U.S. senators want to raise federal gas and diesel taxes a total of 12 cents over the next two years.
The proposed gas tax hike would raise money to shore up the Highway Trust Fund that’s in trouble of going broke.
In April, state officials said Paseo was in jeopardy of losing out on millions of federal dollars and other projects in the state were at risk of being stalled altogether.
However, New Mexico drivers said lawmakers need to pump the brakes before hitting them at the pump.
“I’m a small business owner and I pay so much taxes it’s crazy. Now with this, it’s even worse,” Renteria said.
“They take too much taxes as it is so they should have enough money to fix the roads anyways,” Jesus Astorga said.
“I think they need to stop spending,” Renteria said.
State, city and federal funds were used to fix the Paseo/I-25 interchange.
If Congress doesn’t act and the fund goes dry, the state will have to cover the $5 million shortfall.
The last time federal gas and diesel taxes were increased was back in 1993 as part of a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit.
New Mexico’s U.S. senators have not returned calls for comment.