Slightly more than half (55%) of Americans say they’d support an increase in the federal gas tax if the funds were used to improve roads and bridges in their state, according to a Bloomberg poll.
Respondents identifying themselves as Republican (51%) and Democrat (67%) both supported the notion.
Last raised in 1993, the federal gas tax is currently 18.4 cents per gallon.
During a talk with local officials and business leaders in Louisville, KY, last week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao floated the idea of an increase in the federal gas tax as one way to fund the anticipated $1 trillion infrastructure package from the Trump administration. The gas tax fuels the Highway Trust Fund, which uses state and local grants to provide the majority of federal spending for mass transit and highways.
However, the HTF has struggled to remain solvent. Lawmakers are considering ways to improve revenue generation opportunities for the HTF as part of the broader effort toward tax reform.
In a bipartisan letter last month to the House Ways and Means Committee, 250 representatives stressed the need for additional funding in order to continue investing in their jurisdictions' infrastructure. In addition to raising the gas tax, they suggested other ways to finance the HTF including charging motorists based on how far they drive and raising sales and tire taxes.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s infrastructure a score of D+ this year, with roads (D) and transit (D-) scoring below that average. The amount of funding needed to upgrade all infrastructure rose $1 trillion from 2013, the last time the ASCE issued a report card.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal plans to use private investment to spur $1 trillion in project work. Because an eventual infrastructure plan is likely to focus federal spending on projects of national importance, states are doubling down on ways to finance their own projects. California, Indiana, New Jersey and Oregon are among them.