Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO support gas tax hike
At a recent hearing in the U.S. Senate, more voices were added to the chorus of those pushing for a gas tax increase. But Congress is in no mood to raise any taxes in an election year.
In the strange bedfellows department, both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO pushed for the tax hike at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Chamber President Tom Donohue called an increase in the gas tax the simplest, most straightforward, and most effective way to generate enough revenue to cover the $20 billion shortfall in transportation funding, reports TheHill.com. With cars becoming more fuel efficient and Americans driving less, the Highway Trust Fund is gradually going bankrupt, he said.
Funding for transportation is allocated only through this year, and $20 billion of that was brought from other areas of the federal budget.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke to the Senate committee about the importance of infrastructure repair. He too advocated a gas tax increase.
The gas tax was last raised in 1993, when it represented 17 percent of the price of fuel; it now represents about 5 percent of the cost of fuel, Trumka said, according to TheHill.com.
Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she intends to pass a five- or six-year transportation bill before April. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a six-year bill would cost another $100 billion, to maintain current levels of spending on roads and transit.
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, said a gas tax increase resonates with many of those involved with transportation funding. He said the Trucking Association told the committee it supported raising the diesel fuel tax so truckers would have safe roads to drive on.Download Bulletin PDF