Business | Law

KOMO: State won't divulge how tribal gas revenues are spent

"While we're all feeling extra pain at the gas pump these days, a KOMO 4 Problem Solver investigation has discovered the state is keeping some million-dollar secrets about your gas taxes. Our investigation found the state is paying out millions from the state gas tax, and they won't tell us how the majority of it is being spent.

For whatever financial pinch you might feel when filling up, at least there's consolation knowing that for each gallon purchased, 35 cents goes to the state. That money adds up to the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Fund and it all pays for new highways, filling potholes, and fixing roads, right?

Wrong. This year alone, more than $22 million of state gas tax money is heading off the books. It's going straight to local tribes operating their own gas stations.

"Now that just flap dab is wrong," says Tim Hamilton, Executive Director of AUTO, a gasoline retailers organization. "It's not only morally wrong, it's financially wrong."

In 2006, the state lost a local court battle that ruled tribes, as sovereign nations, don't have to pay the gas tax. To end future court battles, the legislature and Governor Gregoire signed off on a deal: for every gallon a tribe sells, the state pays them back 75 percent of the gas tax, or 28 cents a gallon.

As part of the deal, there's no limit on how many stations the tribes can own or how much gas they can sell. It's bad news for non-tribal stations."

Get the Story:
What a waste: State's keeping secrets with our gas tax (KOMO-TV 5/5)

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