In the debate on how to best fix the Highway Trust Fund, often times lawmakers shy away from the most direct funding source: a raise to the federal gas tax. Its last increase was in 1993, and since that time it has lost a third of its purchasing power. While many states have taken bipartisan action in the past few years to better fund their roads, bridges, and transit using this method, federal lawmakers have continued to be reluctant as previous research has indicated opposition to an increase.
However, a new research poll shows that a majority of voters would support an increase to the gas tax, so long as it goes toward better transportation infrastructure. The study, released by the Mineta Transportation Institute, found 69 percent of respondents willing to pay a 10-cent per gallon increase for improved road maintenance.
In addition to supporting an increased investment in roads and bridges, two-thirds of respondents also agreed that some gas tax revenues should go toward transit, as most people want good public transit service in their state.
As Congress must act by May 31 to reauthorize the surface transportation law, this new study demonstrates that voters support finding the needed funding through an increase to the gas tax. While the 10-cent increase tested in this research would not grow our system in the future, it can act as a springboard to improve America’s roads, bridges, and transit. The bottom line: Americans want better transportation and they are willing to pay for it.