As highway reauthorization hearing nears, ARTBA proposes 15-cent gas tax increase for 10-year funding

Updated Mar 23, 2015
(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)

A proposal dubbed “Getting Beyond Gridlock” by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) would raise $401 billion for highway and mass transit capital investments via a 15-cents-per-gallon increase in federal gas and diesel fuel taxes.

The proposal comes less than a week before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing on “reauthorizing” federal surface transportation programs; i.e., funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

Scheduled for March 17, the hearing will focus on “perspectives of state and local governments.” Scheduled to be on hand are North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, and Wyoming Department of Transportation Director John Cox. More hearing details are available here.


To offset the effect on middle- and lower-income families, the plan proposes a tax rebate on the amount of the increase for six years.

ARTBA said the plan would create “sustainable, user-based funds to support it (highway and transit programs) for at least the next 10 years.” They estimate the tax increase would provide $27 billion a year for the Highway Trust Fund.

“If our national leaders think they need to use budget gimmicks or ‘one-offs’ again to pass the surface transportation investment program the states need and the business community has been pleading for, then use those devices to provide a $90 tax rebate to middle and lower income tax filers to offset the cost to them of a 15-cent-per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax,” ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane said.

The tax rebate in the proposal would need $103.3 billion.

“Our proposal provides an answer to those who believe Americans are not will or able to invest another $90 a year to improve their mobility and help keep the cost of just about everything down,” Ruane added. “I submit the mobility we get from our modest, individual contributions to transportation infrastructure improvements is an outstanding return on investment.”

The association used five sources in creating the proposal; the 2014 forecast covering fuel consumption and miles traveled from the U.S. Energy Information Administration; volume of fuel taxed from the Federal Highway Administration; inflation forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, and tax collection and filing data from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

“We hope this is helpful to Congress and the Administration as they get serious about a real solution that doesn’t just dig out of the huge hole that has been created, but also starts making the bold capital investments necessary to help U.S. businesses and show Americans real results,” Ruane said. “If there is a better plan out there that puts the surface transportation program back on solid ground over the next 10 years with a sustainable growth trajectory, then let’s move on it now. The time for cogitating and fretting is over. The clock is ticking.”

More details on ARTBA’s “Getting Beyond Gridlock” proposal are available here.