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State lawmakers look to raise gas taxes

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MISSOULA, Mont. - For the first time in 24 years, Montana lawmakers endorsed a measure to raise the state tax on gasoline.

According to gasbuddy.com, Montana drivers on average pay $2.34 a gallon, but now some lawmakers want to add eight cents to that to fund state infrastructure.

Missoula resident Ashley Maillet tells NBC Montana she spends about $22 a week on gasoline.

"Adding another eight cents, I think that would add up more than I would like," she said. "I feel like we already get taxed enough for other things."

Rep. Frank Garner (R- Kalispell) sponsored the legislation. He tells NBC Montana the state could see upwards of $280 million from the extra revenue collected at the pumps.

This is how it would work:

Garner says the eight cent tax will bring in about $60 million a year, and go into three separate pots of money.

The first pot will get $2.5 million dollars of the gas tax revenue which would fund Montana Highway Patrol.

About $23 million will go directly to a pot for cities and counties. For every dollar a city/county puts up, they can pull $20 from the money collected by the gas tax up to a certain amount depending on the size of the city/county.

The third pot is what lawmakers hope will rake in the cash, $35 million from the gas tax will go into that fund. For every dollar the third pot sees, the federal government will match it with $7, up to $220 million.

Garner says the investment would save Montanan's $800 million a year in damage to their vehicles and make roads safer.

The State House needs to vote on the bill one more time before it goes to the Senate.

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