This week, ATR’s Grover Norquist and Chris Prandoni discussed the potential gasoline tax hike, which congress has been considering as a solution to our rapidly draining Highway Trust Fund. Despite the fact that lower gas prices will save American families $550 per year, politicians are still talking about hiking the gas tax.
The current gas tax, which was intended to be a kind of “user fee” for the highway system, is anything but. Although slated to net the federal government between 35-40 billion dollars in this year alone, much of these gas tax dollars will go to unrelated services such as mass transit and rail. A higher gas tax would only mean more of the same. The Highway Trust Fund is also extensively used to fund mass transit projects rather than the highways for which it was intended and named, causing the fund to be slated to run dry by (link to previous ATR blog post about Highway Trust Fund running dry)
Prandoni also points out that some of the revenue generated from the gasoline tax goes toward an anachronistic and racist piece of legislation called Davis-Bacon, which was originally meant to keep African Americans out of the labor force, and now serves to make highway projects 22% more expensive due to requiring that higher wages be paid to the workers.
Between allowing for more offshore drilling, wiser spending of gas tax and Highway Trust Fund revenues, and allowing states to build and maintain their own highway systems, Norquist and Prandoni discuss several viable options for raising revenue without sticking it to the middle class with a gas tax hike. You can listen to their discussion in its entirety below: