House transportation chair nixes idea of raising fuel taxes, shows support for mileage tax

By James Jaillet on
Photo from Bloomberg
Shuster speaking to an audience at an infrastructure conference earlier this week. (Photo from Bloomberg)

The chairman of the Houses Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), said at transportation conference this week that he does not support raising fuel taxes to pay for highways and instead voiced support for implementing a mileage tax.

Trucking groups, including the American Trucking Associations, have long been proponents of raising taxes on fuel as a means to fund U.S. roads.

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Shuster was speaking at an event held by Bloomberg Government in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, where he also said he hopes to pass a five- or six-year bill as opposed to a just a two-year bill. The current MAP-21 bill expires Sept. 30.

“Economically, it is not the time [to raise the fuel tax],” Shuster said, according to a report from NATSO. “I just don’t believe the American people have the will out there, in the public or in Congress, even our president has said we’re not going to do that. We’ve got to figure out a different way at this point in time.”

As Bloomberg points out, though, and as Shuster’s comments show, disputes over how to fund the highway bill are likely to arise, even though the Department of Transportation expects for the Highway Trust Fund to be empty by late summer.

A tax on mileage, also known as Vehicle Mileage Tax, was last considered by Congress in December 2012, when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced a bill that would create a program similar to Oregon’s VMT pilot program.

Objections to a mileage tax, however, stem from questions over administration: How mileage would be tracked and any privacy issues that may arise from devices that would be placed on vehicles to track mileage for purposes of taxation.

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In December 2013, Blumenauer introduced another bill in the House that would — in an attempted short-term funding measure — raise the per-gallon fuel tax by 15 cents.

ATA lauded the bill, as its former chief lobbyist Mary Phillips then reiterated the group’s support for a fuel tax increase. “Our support for raising the fuel tax should clearly demonstrate just how critical good roads are for moving freight, commuters, vacationers and shoppers,” Phillips said in December.

As CCJ‘s Kevin Jones reported last month, DOT head Anthony Foxx projected the HTF to see a shortfall by the end of the fiscal year and urged Congress to act to tackle what he called a widening “infrastructure deficit.”

In a hearing held to gather testimony for crafting the next highway bill, governors and mayors from around the country also pressed Congress to take necessary action to find adequate transportation funding.

Click here to see all of CCJ‘s recent coverage of infrastructure funding.

The House transportation committee is also holding a hearing next week — Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. — to talk public-private partnerships and their role in transportation funding, economic development and other infrastructure projects.

James Jaillet

James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.

7 comments
Bill
Bill

Is anyone up for a Rally in D.C.?

I think its time for a rally that will expose the wasted taxes already collected and spent in other areas even thought they were specifically allocated for Highway Funding.

I would recommend that we move to the Highway tax being collected at the pump only.  This would eliminate ALL Toll Roads and Highways, ALL Bridge Toll Collection Sites and ALL Diamond Lanes. EVERYONE has been paying for that 4th Lane they cant drive in so to ease the wear and tear on the other 3 lanes and to level out the traffic flow and reduce the number of highway deaths and accidents caused by these lanes.  Only the gov't in their infinite wisdom would close down 25% of the highway at the busiest time of travel for 5% or less of the traffic.

If we eliminated all the infrastructure, equipment and labor costs to maintain those Toll Readers, Diamond Lanes Computer Equipment, Toll Takers, Toll Buildings at Bridges, Over Passes on Freeways built exclusively for diamond lane riders, we could save a bundle!

The Fuel Tax for Highway Funding is the most fair and equitable way to pay for road construction and maint.  Those who use the roads most pay most of the taxes but that's the way it should be.   This would also be a very trackable number with built in transparency as it will be a simple percentage of all fuel sold which readily available daily from fuel company sources.  This way the politician wont have ways to say that they need additional funding from a variety of sources to collect enough money for road repair.  What they are doing now is including all the aforementioned overhead into their "repair and maint costs" which under my proposal will be eliminated immediately.

What does everyone think?

Bill

upset trucker
upset trucker

Let's waste some more Money! that we don't have ! Look everybody! We were supposed to have learned something from the bailout's Which were a joke! We have too many greedy corporation's running the country, most have foreign interest's, they are focusing on their profit's so they can pay some more lobbyist's to pay some more committee's to fund some more studies to make another tax! ,Insurance companies ,Oil companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and they seem to forget that it's the people who buy and use their item's causing the demand for them! and then let's cut their already small profit's if you can call it profit's, and put another tax on something else! It's a never ending cycle! Let's put all new people in all aspect's of the government and start over again! oh wait that's already been done! Let's get real isn't all these taxes the reason our forefather's left England to start with? To evade and get relief from taxation! I myself feel it's a sad situation that my beloved country put's such irresponsible people in control of every aspect of being in charge of funds that they have to keep creating taxes to pay for things that have already had a tax created to take care of! Highway use tax, Fuel tax, Tire tax ,Wheel tax, Toll Road's were an alternative to generate funds for their own upkeep But every one I've ever been on were just as bad as the failing non toll roads ! Where is it going? Let's fund another Study!

Politicians
Politicians

Looks like we have a bunch of dumb people coming up on new way to tax the truckers everyday. Why don't we tax all the trucks from across the border,after all they are the ones that have all the money,if you get my drift. They bring the white powder over lets get them in their pocket. Give us a break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karl
Karl

So where has all the money gone?  When I go through my money and come up short I have to go through and account for all of it. Personal and business. Id love to be able to piss it away and then tell my customers or employer that I need more. The problem is the ones who dont have to pay for anything will think its great as they ride public transit and /or don't work.  This is just another penalty to those that have to use the roads to continue working to pay taxes.  I would like to see an itemized list of where,who and what for  the fuel tax money goes. Then how about another list of how  2290 (550.00 per truck) goes.  Where does the apportion money go.

The best thing that could happen to this country is to only let a person paying taxes vote.

DOTDoctor
DOTDoctor

The trucking industry is taxed to death.  Let's squeeze a little more out of their less than a penny a mile profit margin.  How about we take some of that money we send around the world and use it to fix our roads?  Wouldn't that be amazing!  Invest in America first.  What a novel concept.

upset trucker
upset trucker

To fund studies to create more taxes and jobs for their friends making more useless rule's and reg's for those of us silly enough to try to make a living !

upset trucker
upset trucker

 @DOTDoctor

 That's too simple! That's why we don't do it! We must take care of the people and countries that cannot take care of themselves! But who's going to take care of us? Read the book 1984! it has been foretold ! in all honesty it's the way things are and in reality there's nothing we can do but gripe about it and throw more money at it ! We will never win ,we can only struggle to survive and pay out more than we take in ! eventually when it's all gone they will see the problem's and try to rectify the situation by blaming this politician or that politician, who really didn't know what they were doing to begin with! These politicians really need to get out and see the real world and state of the country in a real world hands on type experience, eye opening visit not some staged town hall meeting's where only the prominent citizen's get to get their picture taken with them! Do a ride along with a smaller non corporate trucking company, spend a day or 2 in an office at one trying to guess how you're going to pay a driver, buy tire's, fuel and insurance, permit's and pay more taxes and necessities that they must have to survive and prosper ! It's not in their best interest's to invest in America as we are a sinking ship! their sending all the money to other countries so they'll have a place to go!