WASHINGTON — IF you think your commute is getting worse, it’s probably not your imagination. And no, it’s not because there are more cars on the road. The potholes, the stalled construction projects, the congestion — it’s because the highway trust fund is almost empty and, without a fix, could run out of money this summer.
Federal transportation funding relies heavily on user-based fees, in the form of gas taxes. While that worked for decades, it began to break down after Congress stopped raising the tax, which has been stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon for over 20 years. Since then, people have begun driving less and using more fuel-efficient cars, which means less tax is paid. Even worse, the tax is not indexed to inflation.
Curated from www.nytimes.com
Unfortunately, this congress is nowhere near passing laws that are going to address the problem in any real way. In the absence of the enactment of a real infrastructure and jobs bill since 2010, and the exhaustion of stimulus funds, states have been scrambling to find ways to meet their needs. Many states have resorted to privatizing roads. Obviously, putting toll booths on every highway of every state is not a workable or fair solution.
We hear from McClatchy-DC that congressional Republicans want to siphon money to transportation from cutting USPS mail delivery to 5 days a week.
“Rather than raise the tax or find some other stable source of revenue, Congress has borrowed $54 billion in general funds since 2008. The House Transportation Committee projects that as much as $15 billion would be needed to extend the highway fund for just one year.
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