One Democrat and one Republican senator are reaching across the aisle to try to solve an upcoming funding shortfall for US road improvements. Of course, it involves raising taxes, so this first step might also be the last in the journey. Early reviews are naturally mixed.
It would be the first federal hike in gas taxes since 1993.
The issue is the federal road-improvement fund that's slated to go insolvent this summer. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) want to address this by proposing the first federal hike in gas taxes since 1993, Reuters reports. Specifically, the proposal is to increase per-gallon taxes on both gasoline and diesel fuel by six cents for two consecutive years. That'd bring federal gas taxes to 30.4 cents a gallon and diesel to 36.4 cents per gallon. After that, the gas tax would be tied to inflation.
Given that mid-term elections are taking place in November, there may not be much of a chance of such taxes being endorsed. Still, sources for the US Highway Trust fund have become progressively more of an issue because fleetwide fuel economy is at an all-time high. With nationwide driving plateauing, it's getting increasingly difficult for the feds to collect their pennies per gallon.
This spring, the Obama Administration sent a bill to Congress that would free up about $87 billion during the next four years for highway repairs. Late last year, a Democratic representative from Oregon, Earl Blumenauer, proposed a 15-cent gas tax increase. There is broad support outside of political circles for an increase, but his proposal went nowhere.