December 4, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced legislation that would incrementally raise the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to 33.4 cents-per-gallon.  Blumenauer's proposal, the Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, increases the gas tax by 15 cents, which is in line with a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations. ASCE joined the Congressman at a press conference this morning in support of the legislation.

The nation’s infrastructure is facing an increasing number of challenges. In ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, a comprehensive assessment of infrastructure across 16 sectors, the cumulative GPA for the nation’s infrastructure rose slightly to a D+ from a D in 2009.  The 2013 Report Card estimates total investment needs at $3.6 trillion by 2020 across all 16 sectors, leaving a funding shortfall of $1.6 trillion based on current funding levels.

The federal gas tax has not changed in twenty years and for the past five years revenue streams have fallen far short of what is needed to address America’s infrastructure needs.  However, the problems of the past five years are small in comparison to the 10-year shortfall projected by Congressional Budget Office.  To prevent bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund in 2015, federal surface transportation investment would have to be zeroed out for that year.  This is an unacceptable path.

By gradually increasing the gas tax by 15 cents through the UPDATE Act and also establishing a competitive grant program to fund vehicle miles traveled pilot programs through a separate piece of legislation call the Road User Fee Pilot Project, Congressman Blumenauer’s bills will once again provide our nation’s surface transportation with long-term, sustainable revenue for the years to come.

It will take this bold leadership to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund can support our needed infrastructure improvements and continue to grow the economy. ASCE looks forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer and he works to advance infrastructure funding in Congress.

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5 Responses

  1. JEFF FRANKLIN says:

    i agree with the increase proposed, it seems long overdue, i doubt that it will get much support in WV, however, as the state tax is heavy already.

  2. Jeff Ashworth says:

    Sometime soon the ASCE should get behind road user fees as the primary means of obtaining revenue to maintain the highway system. Reservations about privacy issues may jeopardize data collection via transponders or GPS-based systems. Odometer data retrieved through the state periodic inspection programs is the logical alternative. Pilot programs could be tested now starting with electric vehicles.

  3. Richard B. Votapka says:

    I would be in favor of a gradual increase in the gas tax providing that there is a prohibition on Congress using the money for anything else other than funding of transportation related projects and that a designated percentage be applied toward rail transportation.

  4. William A. Lemme says:

    The state of Arizona only gets a portion of the gas tax taken in, which we in the state of Arizona believe to be un fare. We Have roads that need to be up graded and then other States get more than they pay in Gas Tax. (The full amount of tax collected should be returned to each state where it was collected.

  5. Tony Puntin says:

    Kudos to the congressman for having the guts to propose what needs to be done despite the public and political sentiment against it.