Property Taxes Help Fund Roads As Gas Tax Revenue Dwindles

Revenue from gas taxes has been down in recent years, leaving little money to handle road improvements and maintenance. The State of Minnesota has shifted the costs to property owners.

"Dedicated roads funding from state and federal road-user sources such as fuel and vehicle taxes has been relatively stagnant for years. Meanwhile, local property levies for roads and bridges in Minnesota have doubled since the mid-1990s -- to an estimated $1.6 billion in 2006. The result, little noticed by most Minnesotans, is that property taxes have become the state's single largest funder of roads, nearly equal to all state and federal sources combined."

"And the connection between crumbling, congested roads and rising property taxes is helping fuel legislative debate over increasing state taxes for transportation."

"State transportation officials under Gov. Tim Pawlenty acknowledge that local governments, which manage 90 percent of Minnesota's 132,000 miles of streets and roads, need more revenue to build and maintain them. But Pawlenty opposes increasing state-level taxes for transportation, more than a third of which go to local road expenses."

Full Story: Property taxes paying lion's share for state's roads, bridges



Paying for Roads

Wonderful, so now people who don't need the roads, and maybe don't want the roads have to pay for the roads.

Why not just raise the gas tax, and other user fees associated with rubber tired vehicles.


This approach/policy is ridiculous. Yet another reason to take roads/highways out of the political sphere. I agree any sort of user fee would be better than this.

Use Existing Facilities

We have two congressional commissions trying to "invent" the best way to collect more money for transportation; National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission and National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

The obvious answer is to raise fossil fuel taxes, although that answers the wrong question, "How can we collect more money without people complaining?"

If you'd like snail-mail addresses for the commissioners on a MSWord file with some suggestions for the right question,"How can we better serve the public (including business)?" The right question includes transit time, individual cost, general air and water quality, Climate Crisis, public cost, business cost, ...

Ask MECapron at aol . com


Road building a complex issue

Personally, I think the issue of using gasoline taxes to fund road building and maintenance is inherently problematic. Its a bit like using the cigarette tax to fund healthcare. The more you smoke, the better quality the healthcare. Is there not a reason to revisit the dynamic that the more we drive, the more roads we build, and then the more money we need to spend on maintaining the roads we build? Is that what we want - to fuel our addiction with more reasons to drive?

Additionally, an increase in gas tax impacts not only those that are behind the wheel. It effects, most significantly, transportation and shipping costs which consumers will ultimately shoulder at the supermarket, local store, and elsewhere. In this sense, using something like property taxes (but not sales tax - that would, be regressive) to assist with road work does not bother me too much as we all benefit from decent roads even if we don't personally drive on them. Your cell phone, computer, food, and the vast majority of your personal effects got to your region on a truck, and that truck drove on a road. Maybe paying more for consumer products to support road building is ok with some folks, but I don't see it included in the conversation about raising the gas tax very often.

I do not have a better solution to funding road projects, and I am not even opposed to a tax (and perhaps a hefty tax) on gasoline use. I just don't think it should go to fund the building of yet more roads. Perhaps it (or a portion) should be dedicated to non-automotive forms of transportation - establishing multi-modal streets and funding public transit, for example.

I do not drive much myself - I live a block and a half from my work and walk to get groceries and most daily needs. We moved to our current house deliberately to create this type of local life. Still, I recognize that even though I work to avoid unnecessary auto travel, the "I don't use it, so I don't need to pay for it" approach is much more complex. Afterall, I'm expecting a shipment from Ikea next week and its coming on a big ole 18 wheeler...


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