Support builds for fuel-tax increase to pay for transportation

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 6/12/2014

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., plans to introduce a bill that would increase federal fuel taxes by 12 cents over the next two years to pay for transportation, and his announcement immediately drew support from AAA.

Murphy announced his plan during a recent news conference about the need to repair and replace aging and obsolete infrastructure.

Murphy’s proposal calls for a 6-cent increase in 2015 and a 6-cent increase in 2016.

AAA issued a press release to endorse the proposal, and released results of a survey that demonstrates public willingness to pay a bit more at the pump to benefit transportation.

“We continue to hear from members of Congress – and we have for years – that the gas tax is a non-starter, that it’s politically impossible. I think that this poll really helps to illustrate that some of that is not borne out by the numbers,” AAA Director of Federal Relations Avery Ash told “Land Line Now” on Wednesday, June 11.

Two-thirds of the more than 2,000 respondents to the AAA survey said taxes on gasoline and diesel were appropriate for funding transportation, and 52 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to pay more at the pump to improve the system.

AAA also says nearly three times as many people would likely vote for a member of Congress who supports increased spending for transportation than would be less likely.

“All the way down the line, every time the question is asked, ‘how are we going to fund our transportation system?’ The answer that keeps coming back is the gas tax,”Ash said.

“It’s the most proven, it’s the most efficient, and it’s the most elegant solution to getting this done in the short term. … Nobody wants to pay more, but people are willing to pay more if they understand the money that’s being raised is being spent on projects that benefit them, that increase mobility and increase safety.”

The average motorist pays about $95 a year in federal taxes at the pump based on the gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon.

Truckers, on the other hand, spend considerably more. The OOIDA Foundation estimates that an owner-operator who buys 20,000 gallons of fuel a year pays about $4,880 in diesel taxes based on the rate of 24.4 cents per gallon.

OOIDA is on record for supporting fuel taxes as the fairest and most equitable way to pay for transportation. The Association also insists that road and bridge money stay with roads and bridges and not be diverted for other uses.

Some members of Congress have floated fuel-tax proposals in recent years, but they haven’t stuck.

Murphy has not formally introduced his bill, but was recently quoted as saying new money for transportation is not going to fall from the trees.

“Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.

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