Funding Federal Transportation Programs

 

 

 

 

Transportation funding mechanism would increase federal gas tax

From "Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform"



RECOMMENDATION 1.7: FULLY FUND THE TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND INSTEAD OF RELYING ON DEFICIT SPENDING.

Dedicate a 15-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax to transportation funding, and limit spending if necessary to match the revenues the trust fund collects each year.

Under current law, the Transportation Trust Fund has hybrid budget treatment in which contract authority is mandatory, while outlays are discretionary. This hybrid treatment results in less accountability and discipline for transportation spending and allows for budget gimmicks to circumvent budget limits to increase spending. The Commission plan reclassifies spending from the Transportation Trust Fund to make both contract authority and outlays mandatory, and then limits spending to actual revenues collected by the trust fund in the prior year once the gas tax is fully phased in. Shortfalls up until that point would be financed by the general fund.

The Commission recommends gradually increasing the per gallon gas tax by 15 cents between 2013 and 2015. Congress must limit spending from trust funds to the level of dedicated revenues from the previous year. Before asking taxpayers to pay more for roads, rail, bridges, and infrastructure, we must ensure existing funds are not wasted. The Commission recommends significant reforms to control federal highway spending. Congress should limit trust fund spending to the most pressing infrastructure needs rather than forcing states to fund low-priority projects. It should also end the practice of highway authorization earmarks such as the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.

 

 

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