By Dave Bauer, executive vice president/advocacy, ARTBA
The lobbying groups Freedom Partners (FP) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Feb. 20 released a report showing how much a 25-cent federal gas tax increase would impact average households in each state.
The conservative/libertarian organizations are part of the political and advocacy apparatus of billionaires Charles and David Koch and have routinely fought gas tax increases at the state level. The authors cited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s proposal for a 25-cent gas tax increase as the basis of their report.
The release follows news stories last week of President Donald Trump telling congressional transportation committee leaders he would support an increase in the federal motor fuels tax. While the President and his aides have repeatedly expressed an openness to raising the tax to pay for infrastructure improvements, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other congressional GOP leaders continue to oppose such a move.
In addition to showing the impact in each state, the FP/AFP study illustrates the top 10 states that would have the largest percentage increase over the current gas tax. While the authors do not make this point, President Trump won nine of the top states that would be most impacted.
Instead of raising new revenue to address the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure challenges, the report claims lawmakers should to stop diverting gas taxes to “unrelated or local projects” and cut regulations. As is typically the case when anti-tax and spending groups discuss federal transportation investment, they fail to acknowledge that the vast majority of federal-aid project decisions are made at the state and local levels of government. They also overlook how much traffic congestion and inadequate roads and bridges cost Americans each day.
ARTBA and other groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have long supported increasing the federal motor fuels tax. The fact that groups like FP and AFP are now expanding their gas tax activities indicates they fear we are making progress.