Annually, the federal government takes $39 billion from taxpayers for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and now they’re asking for even more.
Since 2008, the Highway Trust Fund has accumulated $55 billion in debt. The HTF must be reformed to ensure that taxpayer money is being protected and spent wisely.
Washington politicians want more revenue for the highway trust fund by raising the gas tax that helps fund roads and bridges, and facilitates drivers paying for this service. They claim there is not enough money in the HTF to fund these projects. However, spending habits say otherwise. Funds from the HTF have been used on a range of unrelated and frivolous low priority plans such as “bicycle paths, walking trails and environmental projects.”
Instead of raising taxes, the government should simply cut waste. In fact, according to Cato’s Chris Edwards, a full one quarter of highway trust fund spending is spent on non-highway purposes.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Federal law requires states to use a fraction of their federal highway funds each year on projects that enhance the transportation experience rather than on actual highways.”
Senator Coburn (R-Okla.) criticized an $112,000 grant for a white squirrel sanctuary and $198,000 for two driving simulators. These grants were considered enhancement projects intended for “educational uses.”
Examples in recent years also include nearly $900,000 to resurface a bike trail in Los Angeles and almost $6 million in funding for a boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
After spending countless millions of taxpayer dollars on projects clearly unrelated to highways and transit, politicians are asking for even more.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, explains:
“Before even considering increasing the gas tax, politicians should implement reforms to ensure that current gas tax revenue is spent efficiently.”
The Highway Trust Fund certainly needs to be reformed, but the federal government does not need any more taxpayer money to do it. Perhaps if the HTF spent less money sheltering squirrels, they would be able to fix the 25% of American bridges that are deficient.