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Drilling For Highway Trust Fund Dollars

To maintain current transportation spending levels in the new reauthorization bill, Speaker Boehner is proposing a bill to fill the shortfall from projected federal gas tax revenues with the royalties expected from new oil and gas drilling.
November 10, 2011, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Brad Plumer describes in this blog what's being considered by Speaker Boehner to boost spending levels in Transportation Chair John Mica's $230 billion, 6-year transportation bill. House Republicans call it 'energy for infrastructure' that also works as a non-stimulus jobs bill, i.e. not increasing the deficit.

However, Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense notes that "oil and gas royalties are currently used to fund other parts of government. "This is revenue that's supposed to go to the general fund," says . So if the bill just uses existing royalties, it will increase the deficit."

Furthermore, in Environment & Energy Daily's: Boehner moving forward with energy-for-infrastructure plan (subscription), Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a former deputy Interior secretary notes some of those additional sources, including "conservation purposes, parks, water conservation or energy conservation, renewables".

From Speaker Boehner's Blog: House GOP to Move Jobs Bill Linking Increased American Energy Production to Infrastructure Reform: "In the coming weeks, House Republicans will formally introduce an energy & infrastructure jobs bill, and hope to move the legislation through the House before the end of the year."

Plumer also provides "A short history of America's gas tax woes" beginning in 1982, when President Reagan initially refused to increase the gas tax, but working with Democrats settled on a 5-cent gas tax increase "in order to bankroll a 'massive reparation of the nation's bridges and roads'."

Thanks to Loren Spiekerman

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 in The Washington Post: Ezra Klein's Wonkblog
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