Two states took opposite fuel tax tacks this summer. Connecticut's legislature adopted an 8ยข/gal. increase on diesel fuel, reversing a cut enacted in the 1990s. It took effect August 1. Less than a week later, voters in Missouri trounced a proposition that would have raised gasoline and diesel taxes by four cents each, along with a half-cent increase in the sales tax.

Next up: a referendum in November in Northern Virginia and the state's Tidewater area on whether to impose local sales tax increases that would go in large part for transportation. Washington State will also have a referendum on an extensive transportation package. Taken together, these votes may provide an indication for what combination of taxes will pass muster with voters in 2003 and 2004, as shrinking state budgets and a new federal highway bill increase the pressure to come up with additional state funds.