Congressional Leaders Show Interest In Raising Gas Tax

Posted on January 6, 2015 16:24 pm CST

By: Nick Thompson

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – One of the new leaders in the Republican controlled Congress in Washington has signaled it might be time to hike taxes on drivers at the pump. 

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, is the incoming leader of the Senate’s transportation committee. Thune said a gas tax hike is on the table. 

All the money drivers pay in federal gas taxes goes into the highway trust fund in Washington, and that fund kicks the money back out to states to reimburse them for highway projects. The trust fund is supposed to run out of money this summer, leading Congress to scramble for a sustainable way to keep it solvent. 

Springfield driver Conner Wilson said he loves all the money he's been saving with gas under $2 gallon. 

"From my standpoint I enjoy it being this low because it allows me to be able to afford to do some more things not just spend all the money that I made from work on gas," Wilson said. 

Consumers have seen their purchasing power grow lately with low fuel prices, but transportation officials have said their dollars aren not going as far as they try to fix up the nation's roads. 

Missouri drivers pay a 17 cent per gallon state fuel tax and an 18 cent per gallon federal tax. Both have not been raised since the mid 1990's. 

Thune wants the federal gas tax to go up by 12 cents over the next two years, and wants it to be indexed to inflation each year after the initial raises. 

Congress patched the trust fund last summer by pulling money from other sources in the federal budget. 

Wilson and Tim Belden said they want lawmakers to find more ways to be creative before they reach into consumer’s pockets. 

"We pay an awful lot in taxes and we pay way more than is needed to run this nation,” Belden said. “But we give so much of it away and we waste so much of it that the things that need to be getting done are not being done." 
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, issued the following statement when KOLR10 News reached out to the Missouri congressional delegation for comment: 

“Over the last several years, the highway trust fund outlays have grown larger than the revenues coming into it.  And some lawmakers point to this as a reason to increase the fuel tax or create a mileage tax.  However, the problem with the highway trust fund is not that too little revenue is coming in, but that wasteful spending has led to too much funds going out.  It is important that the review process for approving highway trust fund-funded projects is very stringent so there is as little waste in the system as possible."


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