Keith Laing writes that "Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would...increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations. Blumenauer is scheduled to unveil his legislation to increase the federal gas tax during a news conference Wednesday."
The Oregon lawmaker is scheduled to appear with representatives from the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Labors International Union of North America, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Reconnecting America and the American Public Transportation Association.
The bill is timely considering that the current, two-year surface transportation legislation, MAP-21, expires on Sept. 30, 2014, at which time the Highway Trust Fund, without new funding, will be insolvent as fuel taxes fall short of current transportation funding. That legislation funded the HTF with $54 billion per year, including $35 billion annually from the 18.4-cent gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax, unchanged since 1993.
Laing writes that "(t)ransportation advocates have pushed for a gas tax increase to close an approximately $20 billion shortfall in infrastructure funding that has developed as cars have grown more fuel efficient." MAP-21 closed the funding gap through a series of tax changes and subsidies from the General Fund but no increases in transportation user fees.