LaHood explains to the meeting's attendees that because "people are driving less and are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles", the Highway Trust Fund, which receives revenue from fuel taxes, is running a deficit.
"In a discussion about what locals would like to see in the bill, LaHood became animated as he said "these are all good ideas." And then he added "The only problem we have in Washington, believe it or not, is finding the $600 billion to pay for it. " Pressed on sources of funding OTHER* than a gas tax, Lahood said: "Another way is -don't run me out, okay? Tolling. Some places in the country are talking about using tolls. You can raise a lot of money by tolling." The crowd, (a New York City crowd, after all), applauded."
The audio tape is available in the news article.
"Update: LaHood's spokeswoman, Jill Zuckman clarifies in an email: "He's not for tolling for existing roads already paid for by tax dollars. He's open to tolling to add capacity, like a new lane, or a new road."
*"For the Obama administration, deep-sixing the (transportation) bill was a political necessity, because raising the gas tax is a nonstarter in an election year. And until Oberstar or another lawmaker can find a viable alternative method to raise the $200 billion plus needed to fully fund his legislation, it is likely to stay stuck in no man's land." [Cited from Politico: James Oberstar stymied on transit bill
Ray LaHood is uttering a similar call for revenue as did his predecessor under the Bush Administration, Mary Peters, except she was far more specific about how to gain revenue from road tolling. [See Planetizen: 'Tolls Not Gas Tax', Says Bush.