House bill would raise gas tax 15 cents a gallon

House bill would raise gas tax 15 cents a gallon

A new bill in the House of Representatives would raise the gas tax 15 cents a gallon as a way to deal with badly needed infrastructure investment. The bill by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would raise the tax to 33.4 cents a gallon for gas and 42.8 cents per gallon for diesel. The increase would be phased in over three years.

The need to raise funds for infrastructure investment is indisputable. The federal gas tax has not been raised in 20 years, and the American Society of Civil Engineers said recently that the U.S. faces a $1.6 trillion infrastructure investment need by 2020. Three years ago, the Federal Highway Administration said that $70.9 billion was needed for repairs to keep our infrastructure safe.

The country desperately needs additional funding for infrastructure and for the moment there is no better means than the fuel tax, says Kathleen Bower, AAAs vice president of public affairs. The proposed increase is well overdue and in line with what most experts suggest would be appropriate.

Blumenauer also introduced a bill to study a tax for vehicle miles traveled (VMT), where drivers would be taxed based on how many miles they drove. Although the idea is opposed by conservatives and privacy advocates, proponents see it as a more sustainable way of funding infrastructure over the long term. A 2011 Congressional Budget Office report on the subject said that devices that record mileage could be fitted onto cars and read at gas stations. The CBO called the tax a viable option. A pilot project is being run in Oregon.

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