Obama Proposes Tolls On Interstates Across The Nation
Oh yay Federal Government has found another way to tax us, the peasants, with tolls on the Interstate.
As with many federal accounts, the Highway Trust Fund is running on empty. Refilled with the 18.4-cent per gallon gas tax and disbursed by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, the federal highway fund faces a $63 billion shortfall through 2018. Texas gets $2-3 billion per year from the fund which goes towards the roughly $7 billion in yearly Texas Department of Transportation expenditures.
A shortage of funds tends to concentrate the mind–which is why the White House just proposed lifting an old federal restriction against tolling on 46,000 miles of interstate roads. This would allow states to collect tolls on federal interstates for the purpose of funding repairs and expansion.
Organized labor loves the idea as they expect to get the added work at inflated prevailing wages mandated by federal law.
Folks who own the companies that pour concrete love the idea, as they expect to get the new contracts, coupled with reforms to streamline environmental permitting State transportation officials love the idea as they see bigger budgets. There’s even something for the progressive-environmentalist crowd. Buried within the White House’s proposal are provisions to double funding for inner city mass transit to $22 billion while increasing potential fines on automakers by nine-fold to $300 million.
What commuters and taxpayers may think of adding tolls on top of taxes is another story however–one that takes a back seat to the powerful interests now speaking to our representatives in Washington. Of course, we’ve seen this rodeo before: government gets bigger, borrows and spends more tax money, and then, when funds get squeezed, politicians seek ways to increase taxes, fees, or tolls for things large numbers of voters actually use or want, such as safe streets or free-flowing roads. Meanwhile, general revenue that once paid for critical items gets shifted to growing the welfare state and swelling bureaucratic power.
When the current federal highway bill expires on September 30, Congress should consider the White House’s proposal to allow states to charge tolls on interstates. But, Congress should go further by returning transportation funding and policy back to the states where it belongs.
September will be the month that this passes through Congress quietly unless you start calling Congress now and tell them to stop it.