Bill would index federal fuel taxes to inflation to cover shortfalls

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Monday, April 20, 2015

A bill in Congress would shore up the Highway Trust Fund for about a decade, in part by indexing federal taxes on gasoline and diesel to inflation.

U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., Reid Ribble, R-Wis., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., introduced HR1846, the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act, along with 14 co-sponsors on Thursday, April 16.

The act calls for the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral transportation commission by Sept. 1, 2015, and for the commission to work on long-term sustainable funding. If the commission or Congress fails to implement at least three years of sustainable transportation funding by Dec. 31, 2016, fuel tax rates would increase over a five-year period to meet shortfalls, according to language in the act.

The lawmakers say Congress is unlikely to act on any legislation unless faced with some hard deadlines that the proposed act provides.

“We refuse to pass on the liability of our deteriorating roads and bridges to our children and grandchildren,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“The longer we wait to fix our crumbling infrastructure, the more it will cost in the long-run. We need to act now to fix the broken system. The users of our roads, workers, and state and local governments need the certainty that adequate and timely transportation program reauthorizations and funding provide,” they said.

“The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act allows for the consideration of all viable options so that Congress can get serious about finding a long-term, sustainable solution for the Highway Trust Fund. It is our sincere hope that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this important legislation so that the burden of our failing infrastructure isn’t passed on to the next generation.”

As things stand at the current time, Congress is facing a deadline of May 31 to fund surface transportation over the short term – a matter of weeks.

Some key U.S. senators say that if the temporary fix is going to be short, make it short enough so that Congress is forced to act on a five- or six-year transportation bill sometime this summer.

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