One possible small step: 1 cent hike in federal gas tax

One possible small step: 1 cent hike in federal gas tax

Everyone agrees that U.S. infrastructure is in terrible shape. As the WANADA Bulletin reported recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Washington area roads a D+. The trouble is, no one can agree on how to pay for needed improvements.

The idea of increasing the gas tax has been raised many times, but it has not received a serious hearing in many years. The federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents a gallon for 24 years. But many Republicans have signed a pledge not to raise any tax and donêt want to go back on their word, and many Democrats are reluctant to broach the issue.

Now Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-OR) has introduced a bill that would raise the gas tax by about a penny per gallon, up to 1.5 cents. The exact amount would be determined by the National Highway Construction Cost Index and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard.

The U.S. Treasury Department would sell $17 billion in 30-year bonds every year against future revenue from the gas tax. The money would then be put in the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on roads, bridges, transit, and safety programs. The measure would generate about $500 billion over 30 years.

DeFazio has discussed the proposal with an assistant to the president on infrastructure, who did not rule the idea out. DeFazio understands that White House support would be necessary for the measure to go anywhere in Congress.

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