A bipartisan pair of U.S. senators has written to the co-chairmen of the federal deficit commission asking them to consider raising the gas tax to finance highway construction nationwide.

Senators George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Tom Carper, D-Del., wrote to Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, who co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The Highway Trust Fund needs $34 billion over the next six years to maintain the nation’s roads, and Voinovich and Carper urged the commission co-chairmen to consider raising the gas tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund and improve the nation’s infrastructure. The commission is expected to deliver a report outlining its recommendations on ways to curb the federal deficit and the national debt by December.

Voinovich and Carper urged the commission to strongly consider the importance of transportation investment to job creation and the fact that the federal fuel tax has not been increased since 1993, when it was raised by 4.3 cents to 18.4 cents per gallon. The purchasing power of the current fuel taxes has decreased during this time; thus, the federal government’s contribution to the transportation system has continued to fall behind.

“This proposal will fix the transportation program’s major fiscal challenges,” they wrote. “It will remove the approaching need for further General Fund transfers to the Highway Trust Fund, will provide additional deficit reduction, will supply essential investment for transportation infrastructure, and will create more than 750,000 jobs.”

Dozens of stakeholder organizations signed a separate letter to the commission urging its members to raise the gas tax to improve infrastructure, including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the League of American Bicyclists, Transportation for America, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.

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