Democrats in most states are calling for a gas tax hike in order to pay for road repairs and construction. Most Republicans resist any new taxes out of hand, but even they don’t now how to fund infrastructure repairs and construction without either raising the taxes or going further into debt. Conservatives don’t like either:
The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax only brings in approximately $34 billion annually. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to the gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill.
[Democrat Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph] Becker said Thursday that increasing the national gas tax is the easiest solution to the transportation funding shortfall.
“We know that raising taxes is abhorrent to a lot of people and maybe to me personally that I don’t like to see taxes raised, but you have to balance things out and try to make a good decision,” he said.
Yeah, the “balance” Becker is calling for could probably be accomplished without raising taxes. How about reducing spending? Would it really be that hard? An additional $100 billion could surely be carved out of our military spending. Or our transportation department could spend less money and cut waste. I guarantee if you turned over our highway construction exclusively to local private contractors and managers, you’d probably save more than $100 billion.
But all in all, I find it humorous that the civil government’s stated goal of reducing carbon emissions and pollution is at odds with creating revenue from gas consumption. Out of one side of its mouth, the civil government says, “Drive a Prius.” Out of the other side of its mouth, its hoping you’ll keep driving a Hummer.