Last week, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (R-Ore.) introduced legislation aimed at
raising more revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. Rep. Blumenauer’s bill, the Update,
Promote and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials Act (UPDATE Act) (H.R.
3636) would phase in a 15-cent-per-gallon federal gas/diesel tax increase over
three years. This increase would raise the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents to
33.4 cents per gallon, providing more revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. The
UPDATE Act also proposes indexing the gas tax for inflation.
The Highway Trust Fund collects revenues derived mostly from
excise taxes on gasoline and other motor fuels, which is then used to fund the
federal highway and transit programs. Since 2008, the trust fund has faced
growing shortfalls that have been avoided by transfers from the general fund of
the Treasury. During the last surface transportation authorization bill known
as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21),
Congress considered proposals to address the solvency of the trust fund but
ended up skirting the problem by relying on $18.8 billion in general fund
In their most recent annual report card, the
American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a cumulative
GPA of a D+ and identified necessary transportation investments, including $76
billion for deficient bridges, $170 billion for road infrastructure, and
funding for public transit infrastructure.
Despite the growing transportation needs across the country
and the trust fund’s funding shortfalls, the gas tax has not been raised since
1993. The UPDATE Act would address the Highway Trust Fund’s solvency and
provide more funding for federal surface transportation programs, including the
federal highway and transit dollars that counties use to build and maintain
roads and bridges, and provide transit services.
NACo supports increasing the federal gas tax and indexing it
to inflation to address the outstanding surface transportation needs plaguing
our nation’s counties.
Monahan at firstname.lastname@example.org or