Representative Earl Blumenauer along with leaders in the fields of transportation, labor, commerce, and construction introduced H.R. 3636 The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act. This bill would phase in a 15 cent/gallon tax increase over the next three years on gasoline and diesel.
“The gas tax hasn’t been increased since the beginning of the Clinton administration,” said Blumenauer. “Today, with inflation and increased fuel efficiency for vehicles, the average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993. It’s time for Congress to act. There’s a broad and persuasive coalition that stands ready to support Congress, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National AFL-CIO, the construction and trucking industry, cyclists, professional groups, numerous associations of small and medium businesses, local governments, and transit agencies. We just need to give them something to support.”
In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration estimated that over $70.9 billion worth of repairs were needed just to maintain safe infrastructure; that number has since increased The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that surface transportation in the US needs over $2 trillion of investment in order to remain economically competitive.
In recent years, Congress has added to the General Fund deficit by transferring over $50 billion of General Fund revenue to the Highway Trust Fund in order to keep it afloat. In order to maintain current funding in the following years, the Highway Trust Fund will need almost $15 billion a year in addition to current gas tax receipts. Continuing down the current path will mean a 30% drop in federal transportation spending by 2024. The UPDATE Act would raise around $170 billion over ten years.
“Instituting a reasonable gas tax increase now provides the revenues Democrats say they want with a form of a user fee which historically has been acceptable to Republicans including Ronald Reagan, who increased the gas tax by a nickel a gallon in 1982,” said Blumenauer. “Addressing the infrastructure deficit, stabilizing transportation funding, and helping America’s all-too-slow economic recovery is critical if we want a livable and economically prosperous country in the years to come.”
News release from Representative Blumenauer.