A deadlock in Congress has resulted in eight extensions of the national transportation bill. The Republican majority in Congress won’t permit the transfer of federal funds from its general spending account to bolster the Highway Trust Fund. And neither party will lead the charge to raise the gasoline tax. Few taxes provoke more fury than those at the fuel pump and 2012 is an election year.
Two members of the Leadership Initiative for Transportation Solvency in the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace say it’s time to debunk the myths surrounding the maligned gas tax.
Here are what they call “Five myths about your gasoline taxes.”
I agree if we want roads we need to pay for them. I do not agree in flat taxes or property taxes for roads, but user fees, the more you use the road the more you pay, and so far the only tax that does this is a gas tax. Should we increase it? Sure, as it will help the country to stop importing so much low priced oil from the mid east.
The roads aren't amazingly going to pay to fix themselves, so we've got to be proactive about raising funding to do it. The gas tax truly is one of the only ways to tax based on your usage of roadways, but another method, which has been tossed around recently and looks like it will come up again under Mayor elect Condon, is license tab fees. Add an extra $20 or more to each vehicle you license and we'll have some more $$ to work with when fixing roads. Those with multiple cars will be forced to pay it or re-evaluate licensing all of them.
I support the gas tax more than the tab fee, although adding $20 a year wouldn't really be a big deal for us. My family could easily use three cars. Instead, there are times we take someone to their destination, come back home, then go pick them up later and come back home again. That is a waste of gas and wear and tear on the car and the roads.
A gas tax is a direct use tax. It is the best way and probably one of the easiest to administer and collect. It should be a percentage based on the cost of gas, too. That would stop inflationary erosion. We have A LOT of infrastructure needing replacement and a lot of alternative transportation infrastructure in need of development.
@Vanillajane- there's been talk in recent years about going to a percentage based gas tax, although those considered to be 'in the know' say it won't happen this time around when the Federal Transportation Bill is reauthorized. It's challenging times though so who knows, maybe our legislators will surprise us and get proactive with coming up with transportation funding sources.