Gas Tax Hike is Outrageous, Proves Washington Isn't the Solution
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) dismissed a proposal by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to raise the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents to as much as 58.4 cents a gallon over the next five years.
"This is a typical Washington-insider solution to real problems, hike taxes and give failing bureaucracies more money to waste," said Senator DeMint. "Gas prices are already at record levels and American families shouldn't be overtaxed while they are struggling to make ends meet. Until Washington stops funding bridges to nowhere and bike paths while infrastructure crumbles, they can't be trusted to fix the real problems we face."
"Instead of banging our head against the wall by giving Washington more taxdollars and more control, we should return decisions and funding to states that understand their infrastructure needs and priorities."
Senator DeMint introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act in 2005 to reform the bloated federal highway program by devolving federal highway and mass transit projects and their funding sources to the states, allowing them to determine their own transportation priorities.
"The national interstate highway system has been completed for years, and it's time for Washington to get out of the way so states can have the authority to make their own transportation decisions," said Senator DeMint. "The highway funding process in Washington has lost its focus, with thousands of wasteful earmarks for pork projects that serve no national purpose. States send road funds to Washington, and then have to fight tooth and nail to get just a portion of those dollars back. Clearly, states have a better understanding of their residents' needs than Washington insiders."
Senator DeMint's Transportation Empowerment Act returns control of nearly all highway programs to individual states in the form of block grants to states starting in 2010 when the current highway program expires. After a multi-year transition period, the bill reduces the federal gas tax from 18.3 cents to 3.7 cents in 2013 in order to fund only the limited number of programs that serve a clear national purpose.
In return, states could adjust their state gas tax rates and keep nearly all of the revenue they collect instead of funneling it through Washington. The legislation also proposes new ways to finance roads and gives new authority to states that allows them to partner with other states to undertake major multi-state projects.
South Carolina, which currently receives 90.5% of its gas taxes back in transportation funding, would see a dramatic increase in its rate of return because nearly all of its tax revenues would never leave the state. This bill would also empower South Carolina to pursue more innovative and efficient ways to build roads by engaging in public private partnerships.