December 8, 2014

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POLITICS AND GOVERNING:

GOP Leaders: Gas Tax Hike Could Fuel Fixes To Bad Roads And Bridges (David Schaper, 12/08/14, NPR)


[Michigan Gov. Rick] Snyder is calling on lawmakers to roughly double Michigan's gas tax over time, to raise more than $1 billion.

"The money I'm talking about is to get us to fair to good roads. They're not even going to be great roads, folks. We can't afford to have great roads in this state given what we need to invest," he continued.

Snyder is one of a growing number of Republicans across the country who see the need to spend big to improve infrastructure, and who are looking to increase gas taxes to pay for it.

"There's kind of been a switch that's been flipped," says Carl Davis, a senior analyst with the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Davis says gas tax increases are now on the table in states across the country, from New Jersey to Utah to South Carolina to South Dakota. Democratic governors in Delaware, Vermont and Kentucky, and other states are also looking to possibly raise gas taxes, as has been done in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire and Wyoming in the last two years.

"There have been overwhelming infrastructure needs for quite awhile and now that gas prices are lower, it's a little bit more politically feasible to talk about raising the gas tax," he says.

Davis says states are looking to raise their own gas taxes because the federal highway fund is lacking.

"The federal gas tax hasn't gone up in over 21 years and the states don't have the luxury of just sitting around and doing nothing on this issue. They have to find a way to keep their bridges from falling down and keep their roads from developing too many potholes," he argues.

With the federal gas tax stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993 and construction costs rising, the Highway Trust Fund nearly went broke last summer before Congress came up with a short-term fix that will only last until May.

While there is some support among a small, but growing number of Republicans in Congress for raising the federal gas tax, including retiring Wisconsin Rep. Tom Petri, and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Congress appears unlikely to act before the end of the year.

Posted by at December 8, 2014 7:46 PM
  

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