Senators Build Suspense Regarding Gas Tax Replacement

Keith Laing of The Hill breaks the news that two influential Republican U.S. Senators predict that the federal gas tax is on its "last legs." It will be replaced with an (unnamed) user fee when the current transportation funding bill expires May 31.

You may have heard it here first, folks, thanks to Laing who follows what happens in Arkansas when Congress is on vacation.

"Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) predicted this week that lawmakers will find a new way to pay for U.S. transportation projects beyond the gas tax, according to the Fort Smith, Ark., Southwest Times Record," writes Keith Laing.

“Coming up between now and May, you’ll see a new funding mechanism that is going to change how we are funding our roads and highways,” Inhofe said, according to the report. 

While the Senators don't state what user fee it will be, we do know that they don't consider the gas tax to be a user fee (as have others.)

“This is not an announcement on my part, because I still maintain opposition to any new tax increases, however it’s more of a user fee than a tax increase,” [Inhofe] continued. 

"Boozman, who was appearing alongside Inhofe, agreed, saying that the gas tax system was on its last legs because "people just aren’t driving as much as they used to."

“We’re going to have to figure out how we can get a revenue stream to support that, and there’ll be a lot of controversy about that,” Boozman said.

"Both Boozman and Inhofe, senior members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, voted in favor of H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, which will allow for highway and transportation projects to continue through May 31, 2015, by providing nearly $11 billion in off-set highway funds," writes John Lovett of the Southwest Times Record.

Commissions and transportation analysts do recommend transitioning to a mileage-based user fee in the long term, but the MBUF (or VMT Fee) has its own set of challenges, so they recommend increasing the federal gas tax in the short term. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have proposed to increase gas taxes 12-cents over two years.

If they are serious about mileage-based user fees, a good place to start would be passing Rep. Earl Blumenauer's 'Road User Fee Pilot Project Act (described here).

Full Story: GOP senators predict highway funding will change

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