Nothing frustrates me more than people who manipulate data to make it say something different from the truth, and then use that flawed conclusion to make a bad policy decision.

This is exactly what letter writer John Roberts does in “Raising state tax because gas is cheaper isn’t necessary” (Jan. 8). Using tortured logic, Mr. Roberts concludes: “Leave the gas tax alone – the cheaper the gas, the more that we are paying in gas taxes already.” But his conclusion isn’t correct.

Let’s look at the real facts. Gas taxes are a fixed amount paid on each gallon of gas (currently 49.77 cents a gallon, state and federal).

If your car gets 20 miles per gallon and you drive 10,000 miles per year, then you’ll buy 500 gallons of gas and pay $248.85 in gas tax. It doesn’t matter whether you paid $2 or $4 per gallon for that gas – you’ll pay $248.85 in taxes. When the price of gas drops, no individual pays more in gas taxes, nor does the state collect one penny more in gas taxes.

So now that gas prices are low and we’ve removed Mr. Roberts’ “smoke and mirrors” logic, let’s discuss whether it might be a good time to increase the gas tax to repair some of our crumbling roads and bridges.

I propose that we raise the state gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, with a “sunset provision” where the extra 10 cents automatically stops when either of the following occurs: We successfully repair all roads and bridges, or the price of gas once again gets above $3.50 per gallon.

In the meantime, we’d collect much-needed tax money to invest in our infrastructure, making Maine a more appealing place for business, and the incremental construction would create new, high-wage jobs. A win-win for Maine!

Andy Wright

Cumberland Foreside