National Commission Calls for Gas Tax Hike
A report released by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission calls for a significant federal gasoline tax increase of up to 40 cents implemented over 5 years. On top of this, a number of states are considering their own gas tax hikes. Would this finally be enough to reach the breaking point for most Americans?
The issue is highly contraversal and has already mobilized people on both sides of the issue. In my opinion, even those that are supporting the tax hike are missing a fundamental point. Often, the first words out of their mouth are that the hike is needed to fund increasing capacity in an effort to reduce congestion. The phrase, “if you build, they will come” instantly comes to mind. When is the nation going to wake up and realize it’s time to focus on building good mass transit systems?
The opponents largely claim that we don’t need an increase in gas tax, rather a reduction in spending. What, are we going to reduce the amount of money spent on schools or health care? Others claim that instead of gas tax, we should focus on toll based systems. Great, apply tolls on the major highways and force the people who are too cheap to pay the tolls onto back roads that are now used by cyclists trying to avoid cars.
One notable proposal in the report is for an Intercity Passenger Rail program which would provide a stable, dedicated source of funding to improve and expand Amtrak service. Just yesterday, I was out on a ride over lunch with a friend and we noticed works pulling up rail that passed under the Henderson Bridge at one point. How ironic would it be if they were to turn around and lay that all back down in the next 10 years.
I suspect it will be a while before we see how this one shakes out. No candidate in their right mind would openly support a gas tax hike heading into an election.