(Photo Illustration by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

The Highway Trust Fund, along with the Transit Trust Fund, is pretty well bankrupt. Imagine that, Congress not being able to manage money. Where exactly did these overseers of our gas tax drop the ball?

The 1993 Gas Tax

The biggest problem with the gas tax is the same problem we have with the debt ceiling. The gas tax is a fixed amount when it should be a percentage of the cost of a gallon of gas.

More gas use, more damage to roads and bridges, and more dollars to pay for it.

We have more and larger vehicles, damaging weather, resulting in the overly used buzzwords, “crumbling roads and bridges.” You can also substitute “infrastructure” in there somewhere as well.

The last gas tax increase was passed in 1993. Since then the cost of gas has tripled.

Moving Ahead for Progress In The 21st Century Act

You have to give these guys credit for the catchy names they attach to their bills. I feel great just reading that title.

This act required that $21 billion be transferred from the general fund to cover shortfalls in the gas tax resulting in a deficit increase but no gas tax hike for taxpayers.

Well in their defense it was an election year.

Between 1956 and 1991 a national transportation program built the interstate highway system. Lots of jobs and an increase in goods and services reaching the population safer and faster than ever before. A good deal.

Next money moved to maintaining our roadways and transit systems. So the national interest slowly vanished and moved to the local level making it possible for politicians to raid the piggy bank buying votes back home with lavish transportation museums and other non-transportation expenditures. But hey, look at all the jobs created.

Unconstitutional Speed Limits

As things slowly escalated out of control, states now had to petition Washington to get their “fare share” of the gas taxes needed to maintain their roads and bridges. But of course as we all know when you request money from Washington there is some “hoop jumping” in your future.

During the Carter years highway money was withheld to any state that didn’t reduce it’s speed limit to 55 miles per hour. Unconstitutional then; and unconstitutional now.

The Fed’s were providing 25 percent of the money along with 75 percent of the hassle to get that money.

Some Final Thoughts

Why not just eliminate the federal gas tax and leave it to the states to collect what is needed to build and maintain roads and bridges within their own state?

The feds could still be responsible for the interstate highways and bridges.

In a state with our size, small population, our weather, and other factors it might make our gas a little higher than our more populous neighbors.

And there is nothing to say that our legislature couldn’t easily OK transportation museums all over the state like some are doing with federal money.

Again I would favor gas taxes to be a percentage of the price rather than a fixed amount. That could be adjusted much easier than getting a fixed amount gas tax passed.

It is interesting that no one even mentioned gas taxes during the election year just completed. But when prices are low then here comes the “tax and spend” crowd to make sure they get their “fare share” because — guess what?

You can afford the increase now because you’re paying less.

How much more patriotic can you get than that? Now don’t get me started on electric cars.

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