Adam Snider lists the pros and cons of "the most talked-about" options that legislators will consider to pay for the reauthorization or extension of MAP-21. In addition to fiscal urgency, Snider notes that funding the Highway Trust Fund "has gained extra attention with last month’s collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge in Washington state (and) the Metro-North rail crash in Connecticut."
Of the four options, only one has been implemented consistently in recent years.
Transferring money from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) has been the routine over the past few years. It’s how the (three) years of (nine) extensions leading up to MAP-21 were paid for and also offered part of the funding source for last year’s bill. And technically, general fund transfers don’t need an offset.
(S)ince 2008, Congress has shifted $41 billion from the general fund, with another $12.6 billion already authorized for 2014.
Perhaps it's only when all four options are considered that the 'pros' of raising the gas tax stand out as the most practical means to keep the HTF solvent, notwithstanding "a recent Gallup poll (that) found that two-thirds of drivers oppose a gas tax hike, even if the money goes to roads."
Another gas tax increase variant would be to index the excise tax as proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).