WSJ Op-Ed: Taxing for Highways, Paying for Bike Lanes

Last week, Mac Zimmerman penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal lambasting Congress for considering legislation to raise the federal gasoline tax to save the broken Highway Trust Fund (HTF) from insolvency. As the Policy Director for Americans for Prosperity explains, HTF wouldn’t need saving if it hadn’t been grossly misappropriating funds for years. But most importantly, Zimmerman makes clear that America – and especially the middle class – simply can’t afford any increases in gas taxes. Below is an excerpt from the op-ed:

Hence the financial problems. According to an editorial in this newspaper, spending on non-highway projects has increased by nearly 40% since 2008, while highway-related spending has remained flat. If Congress directed the fund to spend its money only on highways and other road-related infrastructure—what it was initially created to do—it would be 98% solvent for the next decade.

Streamlining the planning process could also save taxpayers time and money. For example, a 2011 Congressional Research Service study estimated that major Federal Highway Administration projects can require up to 200 regulatory steps and take between nine and 19 years to complete—with planning, design and federal environmental reviews consuming up to half of that time. Even small projects can take between four and six years from start to finish.

Reforming these rules would reallocate tax dollars wasted on paperwork and red tape to investments in asphalt and concrete. Furthermore, it could save Americans from the pain of a gas tax hike. According to Sentier Research, the median family income is still $900—or 1.7%—lower than it was six years ago. Fortunately, falling gas prices have offset some of this difference. Average prices per gallon have dropped by more than a dollar over the past year, leading to projected annual savings of $700 per household.

Any increase in gas taxes, big or small, would cut into this relief at the pump. Those in the middle class in particular would feel the pain, as they devote the highest share of their household spending to gasoline.

Click here to see AEA’s “Top Reasons Congress Should Reject a Gas Tax”.

Click here to read the rest of the op-ed.

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