A new proposal in the Senate calls for a 12-cent increase in the federal taxes on gasoline and diesel over the next two years to help shore up the Highway Trust Fund.
The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for transportation projects, has already received funding infusions and will likely start to dry out in July.
Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced the proposal, which would also index the gas tax to inflation. The 12-cent hike would offset current transportation spending levels and replenish "all of the buying power the federal gas tax has lost since it was last raised in 1993," according to a summary of the proposal
The spending power of the gas tax is currently 63 percent of its buying power in 1993, according to a press release.
"We’re currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don’t take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund. By modestly raising the federal gas tax, we can address a crippling economic liability for this country — the inability to finance long-term improvements to our crumbling national infrastructure," Murphy stated.
"I know raising the gas tax isn’t an easy choice," he continued, "but we’re not elected to make easy decisions — we’re elected to make the hard ones. This modest increase will pay dividends in the long run."
The senators said their plan would be revenue-neutral if Congress extended provisions in a bipartisan tax relief bill, which would generate $190 billion over the next decade.
"Congress should be embarrassed that it has played chicken with the Highway Trust Fund and allowed it to become one of the largest budgeting failures in the federal government,” Corker said in a statement. “If Americans feel that having modern roads and bridges is important then Congress should have the courage to pay for it."
In a statement, Edward Wytkind, president of the transportation trades department of the AFL-CIO, expressed his enthusiastic support for the measure.
"Our broken surface transportation funding mechanism is currently running on empty — we either fund it with a significant infusion or it will become insolvent and our economy will suffer," he stated. "Investing in transportation is a no-brainer — it means shorter commutes, massive job creation, and safer and more efficient public transit systems and highways that have fallen into a desperate state of disrepair. These investments will also give businesses the modern freight infrastructure they need to remain competitive in the global economy."