By Todd Spencer
OOIDA Executive Vice-President
It’s past time that we had a new, long-term highway bill – legislation that addresses not only highway spending priorities, but also other important transportation issues like truck parking, loading and unloading delays and detention time. Truck size and weights, CDL medical standards, and freight brokers are critical matters for truckers. To say the least, the highway bill is a really big deal.
Lawmakers have been literally playing “kick the can” with the highway bill for the past 15 months because no one wants to talk about where new highway funds would come from – specifically fuel taxes.
At OOIDA, we’re not afraid to talk about taxes. In fact, we are eager to do so. Playing “kick the can” has a lot in common with Russian roulette. Scarcely a day goes by when we aren’t reporting on yet another state that has decided toll roads are the only answer. When a state like Wyoming starts talking tolls, it should be obvious we need to act – and we need to push lawmakers to act.
Higher fuel taxes are a far better option for trucks (and cars, too) than toll roads or any mileage tax that lawmakers may come up with. Remember Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s plan to construct the Trans-Texas Corridor? The tolls the governor planned to collect from truck drivers would be the equivalent to a $1.25 to $1.75 increase in fuel taxes. The mileage assessment in Oregon for an 80,000-pound truck equates to approximately 80 to 90 cents per gallon in fuel tax.
There is no doubt that truckers are better served with fuel taxes. We have to push lawmakers to act – and we have to be willing to pay higher fuel taxes in exchange for a commitment that every penny will go for roads and bridges. LL