Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gradual Fuel Tax Hike Proposed

Mindful of the burgeoning federal deficit, yet equally mindful that the federal Highway Trust Fund reauthorization legislation is mired in the House, and finally mindful that infrastructure construction projects will keep folks working as long as funding is in place, Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio and Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware have proposed to the Obama administration debt commission that motor fuel taxes be gradually increased one penny every month for the next 25 months. Touted as a debt reducing and jobs creating measure, the proposal would go a long way towards funding the needed $500 billion, six year Highway Trust Fund reauthorization. If the lame duck Congress can get the measure through both houses before the anti-infrastructure Republican majority takes over next year, it could help save the heavy construction sector from the complete disaster that awaits if Congress elects to depend on year by year reauthorization measures that choke long term infrastructure planning by state and local governments which depend on the Highway Trust Fund for 75% of the money they spend each year.

So far, this is the only practical funding increase suggestion to come out of a Congress already deadlocked over the reauthorization legislation so important to keeping our roads, bridges, waterways and drinking water systems in good repair over the long term. As it is, state and local governments will be hard pressed to come up with their 25% matching contribution to keep infrastructure projects moving forward during the near future.
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