Young seeks transportation funding delay, advocates gas tax

| Monday, September 22, 2003

Rep. Don Young says he is still pushing for an increase in the national gas tax – a user fee, he calls it – to support a transportation construction bill at a level of $375 billion, 60 percent larger than the last six-year bill, known as the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century, or TEA-21.

Young predicted the bill wouldn’t be completed until early next year.

"This is a long battle. I think I'm making progress," the Alaska Republican told reporters Sept. 18, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

Rewriting the six-year transportation bill, which expires at the end of the month, is one of Young's chief powers as chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Young has not yet filed his bill, which he had said he wanted to bring to the House in July, but it is already generating controversy.

He has proposed raising the gas tax, now at 18.4 cents per gallon, by 2 cents, and indexing it so that it rises automatically with inflation.

His advocacy for a substantial increase in transportation spending pits him against the White House, which has proposed a smaller bill, and his own Republican leadership, which has been adamantly opposed to raising the gas tax.

Some of his fellow lawmakers allege Young's proposal defies Republican ideals of smaller government and lower taxes.

Young said Thursday that he would seek a five-month delay, during which transportation spending would continue at the current rate.

He says the public supports him because people want better highways and transportation systems.

"I may not win ... but if I don't attempt to do so, I know I won't win," he said.

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