In a joint letter sent to Congress on Jan. 26, the American Trucking Associations, AAA and the Chamber of Commerce asked lawmakers to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel purchases — a solution they say will provide the funds the U.S. needs to prevent a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund.
The letter come just over four months before the highway funding patch cleared by Congress late summer 2014 expires. Congress must act before May 31 or the Highway Trust Fund again will face bankruptcy.
The “user pays” model — based on taxing fuel purchases — is the most fair and practical way to shore up the Trust Fund, ATA and the other groups write in their letter.
“Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately and sustainably,” the letter reads. “While no one wants to pay more, we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.”
The fuel tax on gasoline and diesel was last raised in 1993. Inflation, better fuel economy and increased costs of labor and construction “have eroded…the purchasing power” of the Highway Trust Fund, the organizations argue in their letter, which led to the borderline insolvency facing the HTF in recent years.
Moreover, the inefficiencies caused by what the groups call “crumbling infrastructure” cause a loss of 141 million hours to the trucking industry each year — about 51,000 drivers sitting idle for an entire year, the groups say.
The organizations also included an infographic (see below) with its letter, which they say “serve[s] as a primer for lawmakers and the general public as the funding of roads and bridges is considered this spring.”
Below is a preview of the infographic. Click the image to see the full infographic.