Lawmakers call for Highway Trust Fund fix as part of tax code overhaul
- As U.S. lawmakers work on tax reform, many see it as a chance to create long-term revenue streams for the Highway Trust Fund, according to The Hill.
- In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, 250 House legislators from both sides of the aisle wrote that if states don’t have a reliable stream of money for their transportation projects, they won't be able to perform much-needed maintenance and upgrades, which will put the country even further behind in its mission to modernize infrastructure.
- Legislators have suggested different financing schemes, including raising the gas tax, which currently funds the HTF but hasn’t been increased in more than 20 years. Lawmakers have also suggested charging motorists a fee based on how many miles they drive, as well as raising sales and tire taxes.
Amid slow change at the federal level, states have implemented their own versions of some of the exact reforms that these House lawmakers are asking for. In April, California passed a massive, $52 billion infrastructure spending plan, and will help fund it by increasing the gas tax 12 cents a gallon and introducing a new yearly vehicle license fee, which is projected to cost most drivers between $25 and $50 annually.
Indiana is also raising its gas tax — 10 cents per gallon right away and 1 cent per year for seven years — to help fund a seven-year, $5 billion infrastructure plan. Lawmakers are often hesitant to raise taxes, but Indiana officials said citizen reaction indicated that they don't mind paying a little extra at the pump if it means higher quality roads and bridges.
In March, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR, proposed a hike in the federal gas tax as well. He suggested a penny-a-year increase, which could add $17 billion each year to the HTF. The current gas tax, he said, can't keep pace with the amount of repairs that the country's highway system needs.
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