Skip to comments.40-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax increase urged by federal panel
Posted on 01/15/2008 2:56:00 PM PST by BradtotheBone
A federal panel today recommended a steep increase in motor fuel taxes and an increased emphasis on mass transit to meet the nation's transportation needs and repair its deteriorating infrastructure.
In its report, the 12-member National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, appointed by Congress in 2005, recommended increasing the federal gasoline tax by as much as 40 cents a gallon, at a rate of 5 to 8 cents per year.
The current federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the state tax is 20 cents. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline has hovered near $3 for months.
The report, Transportation for Tomorrow, also recommends congestion pricing tolls that increase with the volume or speed of traffic in metropolitan areas.
Other tactics suggested include "a freight fee for freight projects and ticket taxes for passenger rail improvements," according to the commission's announcement.
Three of the commission members, including the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, dissented from the conclusions.
"Raising gas taxes won't improve traffic congestion. It will only perpetuate our ineffective reliance on fossil-based fuels," Peters said in a prepared statement.
"A better way forward is to provide incentives to states willing to pursue more efficient approaches and to invest federal funds more effectively to give commuters real relief from gridlock," she said. Among those approaches, the dissenters suggested tolls and congestion pricing.
A statement from Gov. Rick Perry called the study recommendations "incredibly short-sighted" and said that "raising taxes is a surefire way to stifle growth, and limiting states' freedom to innovate will only make it worse."
As an alternative to tax increases, Perry and the late Texas Transportation Commission chairman Ric Williamson have advocated strongly that Texas enter long-term contracts with private companies to build and operate toll roads.
Perry said he also opposes the report's recommendations "curtailing states' ability to leverage the capital and innovation of the private sector."
Among the other recommendations by the 12-member commission:
Work to cut traffic fatalities in half over the next 17 years by urging states to embrace new strategies to improve safety.
Ease traffic congestion by expanding state and local public transit systems and highway capacity.
Protect the environment by smoothing traffic flow, encouraging alternative commute options such as carpooling and public transit and promoting energy-efficient construction and lighting in transit systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Seek to develop new energy sources with new research programs costing $200 million annually over the next decade.
The proposals for improving the nation's transportation system, which are expected to cost $225 billion each year for the next 50 years, is at risk of stalling because of internal division. The commission's chairwoman, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and two other members oppose gas tax increases and were issuing a dissenting opinion to the report that said private-sector investment and tolls would be sufficient.
The gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and recent efforts by Congress to raise it have faltered over the objections of the Bush administration. The tax increase is designed to take effect in 2009, after President Bush leaves office.
It is time for a "new beginning," the report said, calling the current strategy of patchwork repair "no longer acceptable."
The report also calls for the country to rebuild and expand its rail network to meet a growing demand for alternatives to congested highways and to promote partnerships between the public and private sectors at U.S. ports.
The commission was formed by Congress in 2005 to study the future needs of the nation's surface transportation system, which includes roads, mass-transit systems, ports and rail lines as well as to recommend funding options.
The report comes as state governments and several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, are calling on the federal government to raise gas taxes to pay for substantial transportation improvements. The Minneapolis bridge collapse, which killed 13 people and injured about 100, also shone a national spotlight on the unsteady condition of the nation's roads and bridges and drew new calls for additional spending.
The Bush administration has said that raising taxes won't cut congestion and creates additional risks for congressional pork, such as Alaska's infamous multimillion dollar "Bridge to Nowhere," which has been scuttled.
In its report, the commission unanimously agreed that measures of accountability were needed to keep watch over state and federal spending.
I’m sorry - I must have missed the part where I was told to grease up and bend over.
Are the names of the panel’s members known so the general public can start the TAR AND FEATHERING?
Talk about doing the wrong thing at the wrong time!!!
Hmmmm. Didn’t know that many economic illiterates could be on a federal panel.
These morons won’t be happy until the price of gasoline hits $10.00 per gallon, half of which will be taxes.
Ain’t gonna be no grease for this one.
You weren't. This is too important for grease.
How about letting a free people find their own way to respond to the realities of life?
We have more and better ideas and the problems will be solved just like when water finds it’s own level.
beat me by 7 Dang!
This comes on the heels of the public claiming that the GOP has to go because gas prices are too high and that the bridge collapse was because of a faulty design and not poor maintenance.
Bush has lead us down the wrong path on oil for 8 years. He never made drilling a national defense priority and let the dems slap him down. He puts the future in hydrogen, when it should be in electric plug-ins including nuclear power.
When the author talked to the WH, Mosbacher told him, "We don't do mandates." Of course, they do, MPG, seat belts, and on and on. But no mandates to free us from sending $200 bill to Saudi Arabia annually, so they can build schools around the world to preach hatred of non-moslem culture.
The cost of flex-fuel vehicles is $1 mill per engine for governmental approval. Times 150 engines. Within 3-4 years we would greatly reduce oil imports as the market makes it feasible for alternative fuels.
Why don't they just take my home, my property and my paycheck and move me into a government slum with a few food stamps now and again.
Just what the economy needs...Sheesh.
Why not reduce or downsize government by say 300,000 employees? Eliminating all that fat, high salaries and those killer government pensions could save real big bucks.
Throw the Bastards out....all of them!
what a bunch of blood suckers
They’re working on it. Give them time.
How about we build more power plants while we are at it rather than just telling the public to “use less” as more and more (millions upon millions) immigrate to the USA?