The state Tax Realignment Commission, a panel of financial experts appointed by the Legislature, has put together a package of proposed tax reforms that are designed to create a low, broad tax base. One of the main objectives is to lower the overall state sales tax rate of 6 cents on the dollar by at least a penny.
Here's more information on some of the key elements:
The proposal calls for raising the gas tax 5.5 cents, from 16.75 cents to 22.25 cents a gallon. After a year it would drop to 21.75 cents. All of that cash would be used to improve the state's roads, and ease the pressure for the Legislature to shift more general fund cash to the aging highways and bridges.
The commission recommends the Legislature restore a state sales tax on groceries, which the Legislature eliminated in 2007. The suggested rate is 2.95 percent.
Under the plan, the tax breaks on water, electricity, natural gas and prescriptions filled in stores would be repealed and the tax set at 1.25 percent.
The average household spends $1,900 a year on electricity and about $500 on water. Based on that average rate, people would pay 79 cents more a month for electricity and 19 cents more per month for water. Currently, 12 states tax water and 23 states tax electricity.
As for prescription drugs, the average person spends $70 a month at the pharmacy and would pay 88 cents more in taxes, under the proposal. Taxes on medicine would be capped at $100 a year. Consumers -- who already pay a tax on medicine administered in doctors' offices and hospitals -- could claim additional money spent on their tax returns and receive a tax refund.
Medicaid and Medicare recipients would not be subject to the taxes.