Just imagine- today- a 40 cent gas hike. Some in Washington WANT this!

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From the AP News Wire this morning:

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – A special commission is urging the government to raise federal gasoline taxes by as much as 40 cents per gallon over five years as part of a sweeping overhaul designed to ease traffic congestion and repair the nation’s decaying bridges and roads.

The two-year study being released Tuesday by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, the first to recommend broad changes after the devastating bridge collapse in Minneapolis last August, warns that urgent action is needed to avoid future disasters. Under the recommendation, the current tax of 18.4 cents per gallon for unleaded gasoline would be increased annually for five years — by anywhere from 5 cents to 8 cents each year — and then indexed to inflation afterward to help fix the infrastructure, expand public transit and highways as well as broaden railway and rural access, according to persons with direct knowledge of the report, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the report is not yet public.

The report also calls for rebuilding and expanding the national rail network to meet a growing demand for alternatives to congested highways. Continuing to apply patches to the nation’s aging infrastructure is “no longer acceptable,” and without dramatic changes, “the nation’s system of transportation will further deteriorate,” according to the
report, portions of which were read to the AP. But the 12-member commission’s proposals, which are expected to cost $225 billion each year for the next 50 years, face internal division. The commission’s chairwoman, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and two other members oppose gas tax increases and were issuing a dissenting opinion to the report calling instead for private-sector investment and tolls.

The gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and recent efforts by Congress to raise it have faltered over the objections of the Bush administration. The tax increase being proposed is designed to take effect in 2009, after President Bush leaves office. The commission was formed by Congress in 2005 to study the future needs of the nation’s surface transportation system, which includes roads, mass-transit systems, ports and rail lines — as well to recommend funding options. The report comes as state governments and several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, are calling on the federal government to raise gas taxes to pay for substantial transportation improvements. The Minneapolis bridge collapse, which killed 13 people and injured about 100, spotlighted the decaying infrastructure and drew new calls for additional spending.

Wow! I agree- something needs to be done to fix the roads, but how do we know this 40-cent per gallon increase in gasoline taxes will not be wasted on other budget items? They say the increase would be spread apart yearly, but would add up to 40 cents! The way things are looking, in a few years we’ll be dealing with $5 gasoline!

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  1. I’m usually the last to notice trends, unlikelier still to predict them, but I saw this one coming.

    Roads are falling into disrepair because they are easy targets for budget cutbacks. And poorly maintained roads age more rapidly that well maintained roads. The Public Works Administration of 1933 built many new roads and bridges in a relatively short period of time. Each of them requires regular maintenance. Each of them has a lifetime. It’s like a baby-boomer generation of roads and bridges. Their retirement years are coming.

    Across America 46,000 miles of highway are over 50 years old. I haven’t seen estimates for the average life expectancy of the average highway, but how long can it possibly be? And will they all get there at the same time?

    It’s going to take something like a New New Deal to handle the repairs. That cost is coming up, sooner than later. That means big government money will need to be spent. More than has been historically spent. That means new revenue is needed. That means new taxes. Where should this tax burden be levied? On the users of the roads. That means either TOLLS or GAS TAXES. It has been too long since gas taxes have been raised. The honeymoon has lasted too long and because of that the bill must be higher. We’ve got to make up for lost ground, infrastructurally speaking.

    I have a dim view of politicians. Nothing personal to them, it’s just a poor career choice. Being a politician means you HAVE TO behave like one or you won’t be one for long, and they probably don’t have an education to fall back on if they are voted out of office.

    It’s my fault and it’s your fault that they are the way they are. Given the choice between DOING a good job, or APPEARING TO do a good job, they will always take the latter. Our only hope is that they can do both simultaneously. Don’t vote them out if they do what is right. Even if it costs you a little. Be glad you don’t live in Iraq. Many families are paying with the LIVES of their loved ones. You can afford a little tax.

    No politician wants taxes to go up on their watch. Ever. Period. That’s why the gas tax won’t happen until it is absolutely positively UNAVOIDABLE. Look at the 2007 state budget deficit. Congress gave themselves an extension after failing to balance the budget the first time and causing a government shutdown. Then they ran until the last 3 HOURS of their extension before finally plumbing the budget by raising taxes.

    Now that a bridge has fallen in MN, the public (you and I) are starting to wonder if there isn’t a real crisis on the horizon. What proactive government leaders should have been doing all along (raising taxes and fixing roads) now MUST happen. Because it is imminent it will be delayed further still as awareness (and FEAR) grows, but at least it will be discussed. If another bridge falls it will spur an overcompensation, but short of that it will only be a matter of time before the revenues are found to fix the problems that have long been underfunded. ..Underfunded because there is no political gain in fixing what doesn’t appear to be broken. Prior to the tragedy in MN, any unusual spending on roads would have not gone unpunnished by the voters. That is now likely to change.

    After 9/11 I thought the gov’t missed an opportunity to raise fuel taxes. Nobody likes higher taxes but if they’d have ever flown through the legal gauntlet it would have been then. Arguably it is US foreign policy and oil revenue that made us a target. That cost arose indirectly from our consumption of oil, so oil users should provide the revenue to pay the bill. Raise taxes on energy; oil.

    Future five-dollar gasoline should not be a surprise. Be glad that SOME of it is going to fun our infrastructure (it just makes sense to do so) and our security (because oil is a large contributor to our risk). If we don’t tax it it will STILL go to $5 eventually, and ALL of that revenue will be sent overseas.

    Oil has always been too cheap. The early Fords got in the neighborhood of 25 miles per gallon. Just like today. EVERYTHING else about cars has improved. Safety, comfort, horsepower, styling, convenience, handling, availability. NOT FUEL ECONOMY.

    With higher fuel prices it will (and has) spur more energy conservation. Had anyone even SEEN a Compact Flurorescent Light prior to 9/11 ? Had car makers EVER advertised fuel economy on their commercials prior to $3 gasoline? Oh, well Honda and Toyota may have. They are now eating Ford’s lunch.

    With higher fuel prices, alternate energies will finally see the light of day. $4-5 energy in THIS decade might just save us from $12-15 energy in the NEXT decade. Think about it. Step up and pay for some prevention now, for your kids. If you don’t have kids then think about MINE. They’re really very nice kids.

  2. I hate new taxes as much as anyone else, but I agree our crumbling roads need some serious attention.

    I must say, though, that of all the states I’ve traveled through in recent years, Michigan has always had the worst roads. We’ve had some improvements recently (past several years), but there are still stretches of road that will knock a filling loose. Years ago, I had heard that large trucks had a higher load limit on our freeways in this state, but I don’t know how true it was…but it made sense. That and all the freeze/thaw, and overall neglect, has reduced many miles of concrete and asphalt to a rubble.

    Maybe I’m odd, but I never mind paying money to go on a good toll road. The few I’ve been on have always been in fine condition and nicely maintained. If that’s what it takes, I see that as one solution to funding improvements.

    Would a bond issue be out of the question?

    I just don’t care to have gasoline taxed even more. We’re already struggling too much here in Michigan, and every little bit helps. That service tax that was killed in the state government needed to die…that was like kicking Michigan’s residents while they were already down.

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