Next Shutdown Threat: Highway Funding

This is what happens when the Central Government hasn’t actually had a real budget during the entirety of Obama’s time in officer

(The Hill) Transportation funding is running on empty, forcing Congress to scramble to meet its next major deadline before the tank runs dry on May 31.

Both parties say they want to avoid a repeat of last month’s tense standoff over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. But the likelihood of an impasse increases with each day that passes without an infrastructure reauthorization bill, and transportation advocates warn that more brinkmanship would be disastrous.

What’s the problem? How to pay for it (cough * pass an actual budget * cough)

While all sides back passage of a long-term transportation funding measure this year, there is little consensus about how to pay for the new round of infrastructure spending.

Obviously, some are super thrilled by raising the gas tax

The Equipment Manufacturers and other transportation groups have come out in favor of an increase in the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, but many in Congress oppose asking drivers to pay more at the pump to help pay for road projects.

The gas tax has been the traditional source for federal transportation funding since its inception in the 1930’s — predating the Interstate State Highway System by about 20 years. But it has struggled to keep pace with construction costs, as cars become more fuel-efficient.

So, Government mandates that vehicle become more fuel efficient, push for more hybrids and electric vehicles, and then are shocked when the revenue from the gas tax decreases exponentially. But, hey, why not use gimmicks?

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) issued a proposal Thursday to nearly double the gas tax. If lawmakers find that politically untenable Pete Ruane, the group’s president, offered a potential deal sweetener.

“If our national leaders think they need to use budget gimmicks or ‘one-offs’ again to pass the surface transportation investment program the states need and the business community has been pleading for, then use those devices to provide a $90 tax rebate to middle and lower income tax filers to offset the cost to them of a 15 cent per gallon increase in the federal gas tax,” he said.

Sure thing. That makes sense. Not.

Also noted in the article is the reality that many Republican led states are looking to increase the state gas tax, and many of them have already. Here in North Carolina that is being debated. It’s not like NC already has one of the highest gas taxes in the country already. So, any federal raise would be a double whammy, since many Democrat led states have raised their gas tax. Many are pushing a per-mile usage fee.

“Rather than raise the federal gas tax, a better policy would be to repeal the federal tax and let states pay for their own road projects,” the Heritage Action group said in a blog post on its website. “Devolving transportation projects back to the states will ensure that gas tax money is used for the highest value-added projects.

States know better as to which roads are in need of repair, and would spend that money much better than the federal government. How much money was wasted for infrastructure projects via The Stimulus? Roads that needed no repair were repaired. How much stupidity and pork are inserted into every federal infrastructure funding bill over the years, a problem for both Republicans and Democrats?

The federal program made sense back in the middle part of the 20th century, when the country was building big roads that allowed citizens to move around the country, like I-95 and I-40. Today, when those roads are already built, it makes more sense to allow the States to maintain them, with some federal oversight over the Interstates.

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