Buttigieg: Raising gas tax ‘on the table’ to pay for infrastructure
January 22, 2021
(Freightwaves) U.S. department of Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg acknowledged on Thursday that raising the federal gas tax will be one of the options to fund “major investments” needed for highway infrastructure.
“I think all options need to be on the table,” Buttigieg said during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
“The current state of the highway trust fund [HTF] is that there’s more going out than coming in, and up until now that’s been addressed with general funding transfers. I don’t know whether Congress would want to continue doing that. I think in the near term we need a solution that can provide some predictability and sustainability. In the long term, we need to bear in mind that as vehicles become more efficient and we pursue electrification, sooner or later there will be questions about whether the gas tax can be effective at all.”
The American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have advocated for raising the gas tax 5 cents a year for four years and adjusting it for inflation thereafter.
Pressed further on the HTF by lawmakers, Buttigieg said he would be open to continue funding it by transferring money from the U.S. Treasury general fund “if there’s an appetite for it.” However, “if we’re committed to the idea of user pays, part of how you might do that would be based on vehicle miles traveled. But that raises concerns about privacy, and there remains technical issues as well. It’s going to have to be a conversation not only in the administration but with Congress too.”
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