Gas Tax on the Table
Increasing the Federal gas tax is very much on the discussion table in Washington these days. Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is pushing for a $550 billion federal transportation program that would include a 5-cent federal gas tax increase. Speaking in relation to the gas tax, Congressman Oberstar said:
"The maintenance and improvement of our transportation infrastructure has fallen well behind our needs...An increase in the tax that funds these projects is long overdue." Click HERE for more.
Currently the Federal Gas Tax is set at a fixed rate of 18.4 cents per gallon. It hasn't increased since 1993, and overall revenue from the tax has declined as automobile efficiency has improved.
Transportation Secretary LaHood has mentioned indexing the federal gas tax, along with tolling, bonds, and a miles traveled tax, as a possible revenue stream to fund transportation infrastructure projects. At a summit in Texas this week LaHood said:
"Congress wants to pass a very robust transportation bill in the neighborhood of $400 billion or $500 billion, and we know the highway trust fund is just deficient in its ability to fund those kinds of projects."
The Feds aren't the only ones looking to increase revenue per gallon of fuel, states leaders are also looking at gas tax hikes. Some legislators in West Virginia are at odds with the Governor over his plan to keep a 5 cent fixed portion of the state's gas tax in place past its original expiration date in 2013. In Texas, Governor Perry has rebuffed State Senate Transportation Committee Chair and fellow Republican John Corona's proposal to raise the state's gas tax by $.10 per gallon.
Every community has a lane expansion, interchange improvement, or light rail project in planning that would improve mobility and quality of life, how to pay for them is the question. State bond ratings and public opinion may preclude more debt, and force government at all levels to look at alternative sources of revenue. Please share comments about gas tax proposals in your city, county or state.