2/21: Federal gas tax debated

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The federal gas tax, it seems, is a constant source of debate.

Today, a MARTA leader writes about the need to maintain the dedicated transit funds it provides, which are jeopardized by proposed legislation in Washington.

Meanwhile, a Georgia congressman calls the dispersal of the funds unfair and offers a different option — return the money to the states for use.

What do you think about the federal gas tax?

10 comments Add your comment

Michael Z. Hammock

February 21st, 2012
5:36 pm

Change is the one constant in our lives. Most folks fear it, but some learn to embrace it. This big government versus small government debate began when government began. I agree that alternative forms of transportation (e.g. mass transit) are needed, and will emerge, even if some dislike the idea. A coordinated plan, which should be the goal of the feds, reduces waste and produces the desired effect. However, we like to think of the federal government as an impartial referee, but that’s just an antiquated sports metaphor. Just as the promised reduction in the federal tax for the interstate highway system was forgotten, the Congress will forget to fund portions of state transportation programs. The federal 18.4 cents per gallon, including the 2.86 cents for state projects, will become a discretionary fund, and the individual states, like Georgia, will be left to cover any shortfall. Who knows? Maybe funding MARTA should be Atlanta’s problem. Maybe, a regional transit authority’s funding issues should be their own and not everyone’s.

Halftrack

February 21st, 2012
5:08 pm

Federal Gas Tax helped fund most of the construction on our Interstate Highways and Federal Route System roads. Formula’s for dispursement has gone in various ways over the years. In years past Georgia received more money back than it sent to Washington because it had projects ready to be constructed. Any system can be abused. The Fed Tax has been a good thing in the past.

WeNeedAlternatives

February 21st, 2012
10:16 am

Until the monopoly of oil/auto/road construction has true competition, we will, as a nation, continue to be enslaved to the whims of the world free market of oil prices.
Gasoline taxes need to be higher (ramped up slowly), and a significant chunk of the funding needs to help pay for transit. Already, the gas taxes (and other taxes) are subsidizing roads, but that just gives an avenue for transfer of wealth to the oil producing nations outside our own.
The federal gasoline tax is a far smaller percentage of the pump price than it was in the 1950’s when the interstate system was built. We need a national transportation infrastructure program that also gives individuals alternatives to driving an automobile. This gives people choice, it reduces our dependence upon the middle east for resources, it creates jobs, it reduces pollution and it creates a healthier community. So what’s wrong with that?

Mike McManus

February 21st, 2012
9:50 am

I would like to see gas taxes on par with those in europe and England, putting gas at 7 or 8$ per gallon.. When that happens, we will have the opportunity to have a real discussion about alternative fuels. And smaller cars. I have an old car (13 yrs old) that gets 35 mpg. Nothing on the market today can come close.

Road Scholar

February 21st, 2012
9:25 am

I’m confused about Graves response. By law 92% of the Fed gas tax is returned to all states. This occurred in the 1990’s when the old system was changed. Originally Ga got about 60% and states like Mass. got $2.01 back for each dollar they collected . (remember Tip O’neil in Mass.- he was the reason).

We need the revenue, but not the strings attached. If the majority of those funds were returned to the states for their use, funding would stay the same, but the process would save 30%. The FHWA/Fed DOT does do some good work: They have a pooled resource R&D program that is good. They should be involved in the Interstates and the Nat’l defense/US highway system. That’s where their influence should end.

Also the new bill should return to the early 1990’s and eliminate many of their funding categories. LET THE STATES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DECIDE WHAT THEIR PRIORITIES AND NEEDS ARE!!!! And let them spend their dollars as they see fit!

This does not mean that GDOT throws out all regulations and plan preparation guidelines. State EPD would still review the enviro docs and give approval instead of FWWA . It seems that FHWA acts as if no other similar impacts have been identified, studied, mitigated and documented in documents on similar past projects; there seems to be no learning curve applied to each approval/review.

Bob From Account Temps

February 21st, 2012
9:10 am

the problem with any tax at any level is the lack of spending accountability.

felton mcmichael

February 21st, 2012
5:26 am

@hryder, @zeke, @orange12 …let’s say you get your wish and the federal gas tax is repealed. How do you propose paying for the upkeep of the interstate highways? I’m assuming you’re ok with turning them into some kind of toll toad, right? Something tells me yall are the same nitwits who cried about the HOT lanes in I85. If you can’t stand the thought if someone does benefitting from your tax dollars, I here tax rates are really low in Somalia or Haiti. Sure the infrastructure is nonexistent and you probably won’t be able to find drinking water but at least you can be sure government won’t interfere with your pursuit of happiness.

Orange12

February 20th, 2012
9:16 pm

At this point in time, gas tax should be repealed especially with fuel prices set to shoot through the roof.

zeke

February 20th, 2012
8:45 pm

10-4! When the government, which has nothing to do with the work that produces a product, gasoline, makes more money on taxes than the entities doing the work, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE USA!!! And, when that same government diverts that money from roads and bridges to fund some left wing socialist agenda project, mass transit, that is criminal!!

hryder

February 20th, 2012
8:20 pm

The federal gas tax should not exist. VOTE OUT ALL ELECTED OFFICE HOLDERS IN NOVEMBER!