A big hike in gas prices is looming in the near future if a new bill proposed in Congress takes effect.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) has introduced legislation that would increase the federal tax on gasoline to 33.4 cents per gallon and 42.8 cents per gallon of diesel. The increase is projected to generate approximately $170 billion in tax revenue for the Highway Trust Fund over the next decade and could help compensate for a major shortfall Congress is facing next year.
The Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956, is meant to bring in enough money to maintain U.S. highways and pay for public transportation. Currently, it collects 18.3 cents per gallon of gasoline sold and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel.
But the tax hasn’t been raised in 20 years inflation combined with increasingly fuel efficient vehicles is exacerbating what is an already pressing matter. Congress has already dumped over $50 billion in general tax revenue into the fund.
“Though it would be easier to simply kick the can down the road, today’s proposed legislation takes a necessary step forward in fostering debate on an important issue that many policymakers have been reluctant to address,” Kathleen Bower, vice president of public affairs for AAA said Wednesday. “The country desperately needs additional funding for infrastructure and, for the moment, there is no better means than the fuel tax. The proposed increase is well overdue and in line with what most experts suggest would be appropriate.”
If Congress decides to keep funding at the current level, estimated Blumenauer cited suggest the trust will need an additional $15 billion each year.