Skip to comments.21st Century Policy Opinion: Stop Federal Spending Outside Freight Corridors
Posted on 06/12/2019 4:39:38 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The U.S. Interstate Highway System is the backbone of American commerce and personal travel. Funded on a pay-as-you-go basis largely through federal excise taxes on motor fuel, today it accounts for 25% of total vehicle-miles traveled despite accounting for just 2.5% of total road network lane-miles. Yet, much of the Interstate system, construction of which began in the 1950s, is nearing the end of its functional life, along with the infrastructure of other surface transportation modes. Over the next two decades, trillions of dollars of investment will be needed to rehabilitate and in some cases rebuild this infrastructure, according to some estimates.
Since 2008, Congress has bailed out the federal Highway Trust Fund to the tune of $140 billion as motor fuel tax receipts have stagnated while spending has continued to increase. In addition to the revenue-outlay imbalance at the federal level, outdated federal restrictions on highway tolling have denied to states opportunities to tailor transportation policy and funding to fit their residents needs. This status quo is not sustainable.
In recent years, there have been calls to increase federal motor fuel excise tax rates in order to address what many have called an infrastructure crisis. To be sure, there are very real infrastructure needs in the United States, but they are not uniform across infrastructure asset classes and are not primarily the result of a lack of federal funding. A more nuanced, targeted approach is needed to better address these challenges.
To tackle these challenges, Congress should focus on alternatives to the status quo that could more efficiently target infrastructure investments and increase the returns on those investments. Such an approach would benefit the publictaxpayers, infrastructure users, and consumers . . .
(Excerpt) Read more at forconstructionpros.com ...
Better yet, stop federal has tax funds being stolen for purposes other than road maintenance.
Filled with bad ideas. User fees will never “replace” existing taxes. Taxes never go away.
It’s also another way to force the rest of us to subsidize those in congested cities.
I do not understand. Every time I drive on an interstate, it has a construction project going on. How can it be about to crumble when it is always being repaired? Some of the state roads, on the other hand, are falling apart. This includes portions that substitute for portions of the interstate.
The largest freight corridor is the Mississippi river. Build in this corridor every flood will wipe out infrastructure?
Actually, this article makes the exact opposite point: Eliminate Federal funding for most of the infrastructure in those cities.
Which makes more sense?
1. Each state collects and spends all gas, energy and related taxes in its state. The Feds collect no energy taxes and don’t tell the states what to do or how to do it.
2. The Feds control the money and use that money to bribe states into the wet dreams of Beltway bureaucrats.
A per-mile use fee applies exclusively to rural, fly-over drivers.
Those who can, and choose to avail themselves of “public transportation” won’t be paying any increased costs. Being “public” those costs will be passed on to the tax base one way or another; either through increased use fees for everyone else, or by looting the public treasury.
This is agenda 21.
The vast majority of auto driving in this country takes place on urban and suburban roads. The term "rush hour" is still relevant -- and in many places it now extends for 3, 4 or even more hours, twice a day, coinciding with the periods when people are driving to and from work.
There is absolutely no reason for the Federal government to finance an "interstate highway system" that is used primarily by local drivers who never travel more than 30 miles and rarely cross a state line during the course of their regular travel.
P.S. — A “per-mile use fee” is the closest thing you’ll ever get to a system where the users actually pay for the infrastructure. I only wish this principle would be applied to ALL public infrastructure and services — like health care and education, for example.
I’m not disagreeing with what you’re saying. Unfortunately, what’s being proposed in the article is not that.
I’m also not going for the obvious quibble over “only little house on the prairie” drivers. PER MILE pertains to distance covered, not time spent in a car swearing uselessly... You know this; you just like to argue.
There is absolutely no reason for the Federal government to finance an “interstate highway system”.
On one single point.
There is zero wrong with the fuel taxes generally other than their inappropriate allocation for non-road projects that the political class refuses to fund by user taxes on the other transportation systems that fuel taxes get spent on (trains and “mass transit”).
1. Fuel taxes are the least invasive legitimate proxy for miles driven. Yes, they are based on averages, so some with lousy fuel economy pay more per mile and those with great fuel economy pay less per mile. Most of those distinctions come from our own choices, so the rules use an average, instead of invading our privacy to find exactly the miles per gallon, or miles driven for each of us.
2. If fuel tax revenue declines because of greater fuel efficiency, then the actual average fuel tax paid per mile driven would not amount to an actual increase in fuel taxes paid, if the fuel tax was adjusted by the same average percentage increase in fuel economy. There is nothing “conservative” in blocking such an adjustment.
3. With proper adjustments the fuel taxes are less invasive of our Liberties now than would happen if the government could mandate turning over our mileage data on a regular basis so they could bill some mileage based tax.
Fix the fuel taxes, don’t come after our mileage data.
On one point alone:
“Eliminate federal spending outside of highway freight corridors or at the very least allow federal capital funding to be redirected toward operations and maintenance activities”.
I support the first part of that statement but not the second. The states should cover operations and maintenance activities on projects completed with assistance from federal funds. The federal funds should ONLY be for the capital funding, not an ongoing “entitlement” to the states. Expanding federal funding to operations and maintenance will only detract from the federal funding on the building side.
On one point:
“Motor fuel taxpayers should be reimbursed for the taxes they paid while using toll roads”
How would that work? I think it would become another costly government bureaucratic waste of money. And, why? The toll is specific to “a road”, and are they ANY users that will have not paid fuel-based taxes anyway? No. So every user of a toll road would be due a refund, or only those fuel tax payers who paid fuel taxes during the construction of the toll road, when some fuel-tax revenue may also have been contributed to getting the toll road built? The idea to me is silly. If you don’t want to use a toll road, use an alternative. If you pay the price in congestion you can pat yourself on the back for saving the price of the toll.
I think that’s the idea. As pointed out in the article, federal funds being devoted only to capital projects encourages the states themselves to provide their monies as matches to federal capital grants rather than as funding to maintain their roads.
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