A U.S. Transportation panel is calling for raising federal gas taxes to pay for improvements for roads/bridges and to build new ones. Most of the money that state highway agencies (TxDOT in Texas) use to fund roadway projects come from this tax that is collected anytime you fill up your car/truck with gas or diesel. Currently, the tax is 18.3 cents per gallon and the transportation panel is recommending that the tax be increased by 40 cents over 5 years (8 cents per year).
Infrastructure became a “sexy” issue after the tragedy this summer in Minneapolis. Everyone is talking about how we need to improve our bridges and how we need to inspect all of them. You would expect that during the ensuing months every bridge in the US has been inspected and those bridges deemed structurally unsafe closed for repairs. Well you’d be wrong! In fact, TxDOT is facing a credit crunch now and will suspend issuing new contracts starting this February (they have already scaled back other projects).
So do you think people are supporting the gas tax hike? Of course not! A lot of people don’t like the plan – they say it’s the wrong way to solve the congestion problem. Keep in mind the gas tax has not been raised since 1993. Well gas is quite expensive already (nearly $3/gallon) - so do we really need another 40 cents on top of that? To answer that question it would be wise to compare the cost of gas in other countries and see where we stand: approximately $6/gal in Europe, $4.5/gal in Japan, $5/gal in Brazil, and $3.5/gal in Australia. Obviously there are countries where the price is a lot less than that (Venezuela - $0.2/gal).
The idea here is that paying a little more for gas won’t kill us (at least in my opinion) and it is obvious that we need the money to improve our infrastructure. The bottom line is that our infrastructure is old and needs to be repaired the question is how we pay for it. Some people say raise the gas tax and others say let private enterprise handle it (basically tolls). Either way we’ll pay more out of our pockets but tolls cannot be expected to fix the entire US infrastructure (unless we toll everything) so it seems to me that increasing the gas tax might be the answer!
Below is a link to an article in the Austin American Statesman on the topic: