Clearly 2014 is shaping up to be no 2013 when it comes to states increasing user fees, particularly the state gas tax, to pay for much-needed transportation improvements. Last year, "(l)egislators in Pennsylvania and Virginia reached breakthroughs after years of failed attempts to shore up infrastructure funding. Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont and Wyoming also passed significant transportation funding measures," writes Daniel C. Vock, Governing’s transportation and infrastructure reporter.
In August, Missouri voters will decide on a 10-year, three-quarter-cent general sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, though that would not constitute a user fee. Utah's legislature is considering increasing the 24.5 cents per gallon tax, not raised in almost 17 years.
Vock describes the limited scope of the two successful, though modest state gas tax increases, both accompanied by road or bridge toll eliminations.
With a looming cut-off of federal transportation reimbursements to states in late July or August if Congress can not agree to "patch" the Highway Trust Fund, which did not get off to a propitious start on June 26, states will likely have to take steps to slow down or halt current transportation projects and refrain from starting new ones unless they have secured alternative funding sources - like increasing state gas taxes.
It's a nasty loop when both state legislatures and Congress can't agree to raise revenue to fund state infrastructure.