The Trump administration wants to find common ground with Democrats to get moving on badly needed transportation projects and suggests that higher gas taxes are on the table. Fiscal conservatives recoil at such an idea but these projects need to get done, so how should they be paid for?
National Taxpayers Union President Pete Sepp says there are many ways for government to address the costs of road and bridge projects before ever reaching for taxpayers’ wallets. He says the first step is actually allocating all revenues from existing gas taxes for those projects because that’s not happening now.
“Most people don’t know that under apportionment formulas that are figured out at the federal level, a large portion – even 25 percent – of gas tax revenues aren’t actually put into building or maintaining roads. They go to things like scenic beautification projects, bike paths, mass transit,” said Sepp.
Sepp says there are other bureaucratic headaches that could be addressed as well.
“Another thing that can be fixed is more efficient project building. There needs to be things like life cycle cost analysis. They have to get rid of these labor laws that raise project costs through the roof. They need to do things like streamlining permitting processes. Those permits add to the overhead cost of building roads and fixing up bridges,” said Sepp.
He also says there should be a greater emphasis on public-private partnerships to address infrastructure needs, which would also ease the burden of taxpayers.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Sepp explain why gas taxes are a bigger, more immediate burden on middle class families than other taxes are and what would be more appropriate than gas taxes if government has to take more money from its people.