As Americans are rejoicing over falling gasoline prices, the Senate is preparing to introduce a gas tax hike. The increase would serve to eliminate the deficit in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for bridges and roads around the country.
Although some GOP senators are opposed to a tax hike, some are leading the charge to move forward. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) along with Chris Dodd (D-CT) have proposed a 12 cent gas tax hike over two years. In order to make the hike more agreeable to anti-tax senators, they promise to lower other taxes.
Currently, there is an 18.4 cent tax on gasoline — last raised in 1993. Revenue from that tax isn’t cutting it anymore as cars are becoming increasingly fuel efficient. Meanwhile, stopgap funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out and projects are being held up. The fund will be short more than $160 billion over the next ten years.
Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) , chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the gas tax could not be ruled out. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also agreed.
Corker said he is looking for a permanent fix to the fund’s deficit. “We’re open to all kinds of ways in dealing with this,” Corker said. “But one thing I will lay in the railroad tracks over is any kind of short-term, kick-the-can-down-the-road (approach).”
Speaker of the House John Boehner is opposed to a gas tax hike and said Thursday: “There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas. We’ve got to find a way to deal with America’s crumbling infrastructure and we need to do it in a long-term program that is in fact funded.”